Backlist to the Future: Classroom Publishing

Don’t let the cover fool you—this lively and encouraging backtitle from Ooligan press will perk up your classroom double quick. A detailed and thorough volume, Classroom Publishing: A Practical Guide for Teachers provides a path for transforming a grousing bunch of disheartened children into a team of lively compilers of news journals, books, Wikis, oral histories, movies—the sky’s the limit.

The first edition of Classroom Publishing was written back in 1992, by Laurie King and Dennis Stovall. In 2001, Stovall was hired by Portland State University to develop a graduate program in book publishing, one which was simultaneously a student-run commercial publishing house. So he founded Ooligan Press, and this second edition of his book, thoroughly updated, is itself an Ooligan student endeavor. This is a meta-book, if ever there was one.

The clear descriptions begin at the beginning—with the nitty-gritty of acquisitions, a breakdown of all the types of editing and their order, then on to design, printing, and marketing. Exercises and activities for students are listed at the end of chapters; they are stimulating, useful, and imaginative. Speaking as someone who has copyedited for over fifteen years, I confess that I want to do some of these activities myself (e.g., writing usage guidelines for favorite words; writing a tactful letter to the author of a dreadful poem). From the old-fashioned basics of writing, the book segues into newfangled territory. Electronic publishing and the many pertinent ever-changing technologies that affect the industry are visited frequently throughout the chapters.

A large portion of Classroom Publishing is devoted to case studies, projects ranging from poetry and journals to movies and commercials. The authors emphasize the importance of team spirit, of utilizing the talents of all of the children. The natural divisions of labor in publishing, all the many moving parts that ultimately comprise a completed and published work, leave room for even the unenthusiastic students to find something they are good at, and to make contributions others will value. Their learning is enhanced by pride of ownership, as their involvement and investment grow along with the project. In his introductory remarks, Stovall declares, “Nothing compares to the thrill of watching students proudly share what they have created in a process that fosters individual creativity in collaborative efforts. They own the world of ideas and discourse, of conversation and communication. Even young students get a taste of the power and the responsibility. Words matter. The way they are presented matters.”

The last quarter of the book is devoted to practical resources to aid the teacher and class as they tackle all the realities of their projects, from funding to printing and marketing, from legal issues to eco-friendly publishing. It is a manual for every kind of student publishing, and it is a gift from Ooligan Press students to even younger dreamers—it’s never too soon to get published.

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