BLOOMINGTON — Connor Sheehan, a high school student writing a children’s book, could picture himself as the next Dr. Seuss.
Sheehan, 16, is becoming an author and illustrator as part of his Central Catholic High School sophomore English class. His assignment: to write a story for a specific pre-kindergartner at Epiphany School in Normal, including the boy’s name, favorite color, toy and favorite food.
The 35-page story features a hotdog, the color blue and Batman. “I will be famous,” joked Sheehan, who also hopes to be an Air Force pilot.
The books will be presented next week as Christmas presents to the students of Kathryn Marie Albee Early Learning Center at Epiphany.
The youngsters’ personal details, carefully crafted into the stories, will make the books more special for the 3- to 5-year-olds who receive them, said English teacher Shelly Gruenwald, who helped initiate the project.
Next year, she hopes to have CCHS sophomore art students illustrate the books and perhaps have both authors and illustrators present the books to the kids.
The authors have to be creative when they get combinations such as a bunny, gravy, and the color pink to include in a story, said CCHS teacher Ann Cox.
“They are having a lot of fun,” she said. “It gives them a real-world audience.”
Students agree it is a change of pace from a project about the Holocaust this fall with Shakespeare readings coming in the spring. “We had to make it simple and easy to read,” said Courtney Cox, 15, of Towanda. She is working with Lindsey Schopp, 15, of Chenoa to craft a story for a 3-year-old that includes a rubber ducky, the color pink and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
The project will help connect the high school with its feeder schools. Gruenwald wants to include St. Mary’s and Holy Trinity elementary students in coming years.
“We want the little kids to look and say ‘that’s fun. I want to go there (to CCHS) someday,’” Gruenwald said.
Albee teachers Bridget Lanham and Toni Gruenwald (Shelly’s sister-in-law) look forward to the reaction of their students.
“When we read a book, they are entranced. I think they will be really surprised to see their names and a story about them,” Lanham said.
One 3-year-old girl will read her name in a story about a princess, a potato and the color green. One of its authors, Shannon Lewis, 16, said the magic potato will grant three wishes.