Editor’s note: This article is written by Tryon Elementary second grade teacher Pamela Medford

During the summer, the new Toy Story 4 movie introduced a character named “Forky.” This inspired an idea for a project for my students.

I went to a craft fair and bought a spider created out of a cork named “Corky.” These two items became Reading Buddies for my class. Each day, two students would have Forky or Corky sitting on their desk throughout the day.

The students were so excited about the Reading Buddies that I bought materials and helped each child create their very own Reading Buddy. Those Buddies sat on the desks and all of my students would read to their buddies daily. Some students renamed Corky to names such as Lightning, Shadowmaster, Zane, etc., but everyone talked about our Buddies like they were friends.

On free write days, my students would write stories about their experiences and adventures with friends including Corky. Sharing our stories became an important part of our day, so I introduced my students to Author’s Chair. Each student would sit on a “Special” stool and share their stories with the class. We discussed appropriate positive feedback for our authors and the correct responses for the feedback.

I created a sign-up sheet and my students would fill the sheet for the entire week; the stories became an important part of our day. Students were eager to write and to share, and their eagerness prompted me to look for ways to print some of their stories.

Student Treasures sent emails to all educators regarding how to write, edit, illustrate and publish books for all grade levels. The stories are hand-written in ink by the students, pictures are drawn and colored with waterproof markers. The company sent a kit for our class to use for our final copies.

I submitted our stories and illustrations to the company, and our published book arrived on Nov. 20. We had an Authors’ Book Signing on Nov. 21. All of my students read their stories, shared their illustrations and signed their books. Parents were invited and several sent or brought treats for the authors to enjoy.