National Writing Project

Students and Community Explore Steinbeck, Writing, and Growing Up

Publication: Salinas Californian
Date: April 30, 2009

Summary: As part of the Steinbeck Young Authors Program, students from Central California paired up with community mentors for a Day of Writing at the National Steinbeck Center. Teacher-leader Natalie Bernasconi co-authored the curriculum and coached the mentors.


Excerpt from Article

The Steinbeck Young Authors Program begins with an in-depth curriculum distributed to schools in Monterey County and selected other schools throughout California, in St. Louis, Missouri, and Solon, Iowa. More than 5,000 youngsters are participating this year by studying The Red Pony and engaging in class activities and writing exercises focused on the novella.

With 10-year-old protagonist Jody Tiflin at the heart of the stories, The Red Pony explores themes of growing up and personal responsibility—pivotal issues for all middle-school students. For Monterey County pupils, the Salinas Valley setting of the book can bring an even more personal bond to the stories.

Teachers of participating local classrooms each selected two students to join the Day of Writing at the National Steinbeck Center, during which they composed and revised an essay to submit for competition. The Young Authors Program culminates May 2 with an awards ceremony at California State University, Monterey Bay at which the best essays from each grade level will be selected in three categories: Proficient Writer, Emerging Writer and English Language Learner.

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Read National Steinbeck Center Young Authors Program: students are embraced by the community as they explore Steinbeck, writing and growing up in the Salinas Californian.

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