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Everyone had a story to tell at this year's Young Authors Festival May 4, and nearly 270 grade-schoolers spent almost three hours sharing tales of fantasy, adventure, and fun with one another.

Students in grades one through six from 14 schools in Illinois and Indiana were required to write and illustrate stories before attending the Festival. They scattered in small groups throughout the Grand Lobby of the Ozinga Chapel to read and discuss their short books about siblings, nature, dreams, and pets.

"It's wonderful for these kids to talk about their stories with other children their age," education professor Trina Vallone said. "You can see that they really enjoy discussing the ideas, titles, and illustrations that make up their stories. Even the kids who are usually timid come alive because they can take pride in what they've done."

Each of the small groups was assigned to one of 34 Trinity education students, who also wrote children's stories and read them aloud. Senior art major Hilary Ryan (Frankfort, Ontario) welcomed the budding writers to the Van Namen Recital Hall for a lesson on drawing. She sketched stick figures and explained methods of emphasizing less stick and more figure.

Children's author Esther Hershenhorn, who penned Chicken Soup By Heart and There Goes Lowell's Party, met with the students May 3. She autographed each student's book before returning them the next day. While speaking to the young authors in the Fireside Chapel, she encouraged them to feed their minds and strengthen their writing with a steady diet of reading.

"Every time you read a book, you learn how to write," Hershenhorn said. "If you're going to be a serious writer, you have to be a serious reader. I realized my dream of becoming a writer by reading a lot. Now I spend my days doing what I love and loving what I do."

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