Saturday, February 4, 2012

A Senseless Display of Talent

You won't know these kids until you know their work.

Anna, program director, prepares the copies of "Senseless,"
the sparkling cider and her speech for the crowd at the unveiling party

Open Books, Chicago's non-profit literacy center, uses a wide spectrum of programs to teach youths and adults how to read. One of those programs is ReadThenWrite, an immersive, months-long project in which a group of students read a book together, then write original stories based loosely on one of the themes from that book. Once the kids' tales are finished, Open Books has them printed as a collection, making the students real authors of a real book.

Selected readings from the authors

The first semester of ReadThenWrite ended this winter, and Open Books brought its graduates to their bookstore for the unveiling of their just-printed collection of stories. Each writer's tale focused on a world in which the entire population lost one of the five senses; the students decided for themselves which sense their Earth would be without.

Signing the "Senseless" plaque...

They named their collection "Senseless."

Each story takes the shared theme in a unique direction. A few are set in the modern day, others in the future; some involve magic, others military experiments; some take an optimistic approach to humanity coping with the loss of a sense, while others foresaw a dystopian outcome.

...and receiving the copies of the finished product

With sparkling cider in their hands, this group of young writers
is grateful that the world has not lost its sense of taste.

Come to Open Books and read these kids' work — and gain a better "sense" of who the writers behind the stories really are.