Grant helps area children record their own stories for audio books

Published 9:00 am Sunday, September 3, 2017

After publishing their second book earlier this year, some area children are taking their literary efforts to another level.

Thanks to a grant from Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services, students at Kids College, at the Historic Bessesen building on South Broadway, are professionally recording their books in their own voices for visually-impaired, literacy-challenged and other listeners.

Kids College is an arts enrichment program that meets after school for three days during the school year and throughout the day for three days a week in the summer.

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The children published “Adventures at Swanfeather” in fall 2016 and “Secrets of Swanfeather” in spring 2017, where they almost immediately sold out at their book release. The books share stories of a group of unusual, supernaturally-talented students who attend an unusual art school, according to an online synopsis.

The Kids College students have published two books with plans for a third to be published next spring. Sarah Stultz/Albert Lea Tribune

Laurie Hovendick, one of the mentors for the program, said the idea for the audiobook came from one of the students.

“The students at Kids College amaze me,” Hovendick said. “They are so creative and a joy to be around.

The students hope to be finished recording by October, and the book will be available online and in CD form, said another mentor, Susanne Crane.

The students started out with practice runs of the book for their families, and then worked up to performing rehearsals in their studio in the Bessesen building.

“Reading their chapters for a public audience will increase their confidence and ability to perform,” Crane said. “These kids will never have to fear speech class. I’m very excited for them.”

Eleven-year-old Erin Boorsma said she was glad to be a part of the project and thanked Freeborn-Mower for the grant.

Another student, Emma Prihoda, said she is happy to make the audio book so children who can’t read or who are blind can hear their stories.

The students are working under the direction of Hovendick, Crane and artist Elisha Marin.

In addition to the audio book, Kid’s College students are working on a third book in the series that is due to be completed early next spring.

Crane said as they have completed these projects, the children have learned a lot about the process of creating a book and how to collaborate on a long-term goal.

Ten-year-old Piper Aanes said she has only been a part of Kids College for about a year, but she enjoys her time with the program and was happy to be a part of the audio book.

Marin encouraged people to purchase the books because proceeds from the books help the program continue. The paperback versions of the book are $12 on Amazon or $10 in person.

More information on Kids College can be found at