A bear can be a cub watcher, a hunter, a fish eater … A bat can be a good dinner for a cat …
So reads selected passages from children’s books written and illustrated by Anoka-Hennepin elementary school students attending summer school.
The books evolved from ideas and inspiration students garnered after children’s book author Laura Salas introduced them to her “Can Be” books, among them “A Leaf Can Be” and “Water Can Be.”
“These books get children thinking about regular things in a different way, and then I work with them, coaching them on writing sentences, language skills, developing a story … I’m really impressed with all the books I see here,” Salas said.
Younger students worked together to write and illustrate a classroom book while older students each wrote and illustrated their own books.
Salas visited four Anoka-Hennepin elementary schools during the summer school weeks: Rum River Elementary School, Champlin-Brooklyn Park Academy for Math and Environmental Sciences, University Avenue ACES Elementary School and Mississippi Elementary School.
After Salas visited each school and introduced her book to students at the beginning of the summer school session, teachers worked with students to develop their books, and then Salas returned to see the final, fully illustrated and written projects.
“I love to get out and meet the teachers, librarians and the kids. I especially like to meet the kids, see what they’re up to, what interests them, what their lives are like. I like to keep up with kid culture,” Salas said. “Most of all, I like to connect with them and encourage them.”
Leaders of Anoka-Hennepin’s summer school programs also like what Salas brings to the students.
“It’s a fun project for the kids. It really gets kids excited about writing,” said Nancy Wojciechowski, summer school site leader at Mississippi Elementary School.
Sue Austreng is at