Students from Bond Hill Academy (BHA) and Winton Hills Academy (WHA) have a new achievement to celebrate: published authors. And they recently had the chance to share their books with two Cincinnati legends who inspired their work.
The students created and published original picture book biographies about Judge Nathaniel Jones, a civil rights icon and retired judge with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and NBA Hall of Fame basketball player Oscar Robertson. The book about Judge Jones was written by BHA students and entitled “Judge Jones.” The students from WHA titled their book about Robertson “Big O.”
The young authors were recognized and celebrated at an event hosted by the National Youth Foundation and the Cincinnati Public Library, in which the students could personally present their books to Jones and Robertson and donate copies to the library to be introduced into circulation.
“Childhood literacy is one of the core missions of the library,” said Paula Brehm-Heeger, the Eva Jane Romaine Coombe Director of the Library. “What better way to inspire kids to read than by making them authors?”
The National Youth Foundation works with educators and community leaders to identify students to participate in its Youth Writing Workshop. In these workshops, students learn the process of working in teams to research, develop, write, edit, illustrate and publish an original book. This particular project was funded locally by Alpha Delta Boulé, the Cincinnati Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., Blank Rome LLP and the Greater Cincinnati Foundation.
Jim Anderson, chairman of the Donald Spencer Reading Academy and chairman of the Alpha Delta Boulé Social Action Committee, shared in his opening remarks at the event that this project was special to him — particularly seeing the stories of two living legends told through the eyes of children. Anderson, who spent 29 years coaching running backs for the Cincinnati Bengals, also shared how fun it was to coordinate with both schools to ensure the books were published just how the student authors intended — just like any coach would.
“In a way, I left one coaching job and took a new coaching job,” he said.
During the book-writing process, the students spent a lot of time with Judge Jones and Robertson and really got to know them — everything from the challenges and obstacles they have faced, as well as the accomplishments they have achieved.
“The students had the chance to interview Oscar at school,” said Shelby Zimmer, resource coordinator at WHA. “The whole process really helped them bond and come together as a team to write and illustrate the book. We are so proud of them.”
As for the students, the publication of their books is far from the finish line. Students expressed an interest in writing more and growing their skills.
“This is the second book I’ve written, and I want to write more,” one student from Winton Hills Academy said at the book presentation.
View more photos from the event, which included remarks from Dr. Wilson Kwamogi Okello, visiting assistant professor of Black World Studies and doctoral candidate in the Student Affairs in Higher Education program at Miami University, a poem reading from WHA student Nakinah Ward, and music performances by Walnut Hills High School student Amari West.
Learn more about the National Youth Foundation and the organization’s Youth Writing Workshops at nationalyouthfoundation.org. Ensure your child has a library card by contacting the Cincinnati Public Library at (513) 369-6900 or by visiting cincinnatilibrary.org.