First-year students partner with local elementary school

Cara Byrne, full-time lecturer in the Department of English, teaches the seminar Children’s Picture Books where students study how children’s picture books communicate social norms and ethics through the depiction of people and places. To provide a real world experience, the class collaborated with Noble Elementary School in Cleveland Heights and 36 first-year CWRU students were paired with 63 second grade students as their “book buddy”. 

Throughout the semester, the two groups of students read the same picture books and wrote letters back and forth. Earlier this month, they got to visit in person and read together. Additionally, through a partnership Byrne forged with Cleveland Kids’ Book Bank, the CWRU students distributed over 100 books that the Noble Elementary students could take home. 

One CWRU student said, “This was definitely an experience I will remember for the rest of my life, and it certainly changed the way I look at picture books as well as the impact that children’s literature has on their development.”

Another mentioned, “My experience with my Noble Elementary school scholars, rather than being shocking or new, felt like home.”While this is an ongoing partnership, due to the pandemic, it was suspended in 2020. Both Byrne and the students are excited to continue it this year with safety protocols like masks and outdoor meetings.

Picture to the right is a letter written from a second grade student to a CWRU student.