O is for Oklahoma: Written by Kids for Kids is a participatory children’s project. A portion of sales will benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs of Oklahoma County.
Celebrating the Sooner State, the book features color photographs by David G. Fitzgerald accompanying playful poems corresponding to each letter of the alphabet.
Photos let readers discover significant sights and symbols, from wildlife and natural wonders to noteworthy people and locations.
The book matches up “V” with “vortex”: “Beware our tornadoes, some of the fastest around! The vortex whirls as it touches the ground.”
“The book is for younger kids and has facts that they may have not known,” said 16-year-old Wyneki Borders, one of the book’s more than three dozen authors.
The writers received brainstorming help from Oklahoma Historical Society Executive Director Bob Blackburn and Boys and Girls Club president and CEO Jane Sutter.
The book provided a creative format for tackling weighty social issues, too. “K,” for instance, corresponds to Katz Drug Store. In 1958, the then-downtown business was the site of historic sit-ins, as a group of young African-Americans demonstrated to be served at its “whites only” lunch counter.
Once the entries were completed, text was submitted to Graphic Arts Books.
“I felt very pleased that the publisher really cared about the experience for the kids and not just the final product,” Sutter said.
The young writers met with their publisher, designer and editors via Skype, learning firsthand the intricate steps necessary to produce a book.
More importantly, the childrens’ involvement helped encourage creativity and even inspired future dreams.
“I liked that we learned more about writing,” said fourth-grader Amiya Curry. “The experience let me think that maybe someday I can be an author.”
Eleven-year-old Sergio Hernandez agreed. The aspiring poet contemplated writing his autobiography for his next project. For now, however, he is satisfied.
“I hope it makes people want to come to Oklahoma and stay,” he said.
A number of the authors will sign copies of the book Saturday afternoon.