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St. Angela students contribute illustrations for customized children’s book

By KEVIN KELLEY

FAIRVIEW PARK – Students at St. Angela Merici School become published authors this past year, This past year, creating illustrations for a customized edition of a children’s book with a message of peaceful coexistence. The book, “The Whole Human Race,” was written by Tim McFadden and follows seven children from different backgrounds as they discover that we all share a lot in common.

McFadden’s cousin, North Olmsted resident Laura Seelie, has been a substitute teacher at St. Angela for four years and subbed for art teacher Kristin Thompson-Smith while she was on maternity leave.

Seelie explained that her cousin was inspired to write “The Whole Human Race” after witnessing the various people of different ethnicities and backgrounds riding the subway in Chicago. McFadden – an artist, writer and poet – had not been exposed to such diversity when growing up in Norwalk, Ohio.

“I loved trying to understand how people were communicating with each other even though I didn’t always understand the words they were saying,” McFadden explains on his website regarding his observations on the subway. “Regardless of where they were from, the color of their skin, their religion, who they loved, how young or old they were — there was a universal language that was understood by all.”

Seelie said the book acknowledges that people are different. “But in the most important ways, we are the same,” she said. “The big message is empathy.”

Over the course of four weeks, students in kindergarten through grade eight read and discussed “The Whole Human Race,” then created illustrations for their own version of the book. The special edition of the book, illustrated by the students of St. Angela, was officially released May 25 at the school’s Literacy Night event. McFadden personally read from his book to St. Angela students during a visit to the school.

Seelie said each student brought a unique perspective to his or her illustration.

“Some were literal illustrations [of what’s described in the book],” she said, “like the car horn blowing. Some of it was more imaginative.”

Thompson-Smith said the project was an opportunity for her students to explore ideas of diversity and empathy, which is was the school’s theme last year. “I hope to see this project inspire many more schools around world,” she said.

In fact, Seelie described St. Angela Merici School’s participation as a pilot program for Imagine The World, a larger effort in which schools embrace multiculturalism and diversity through unique artistic interpretation of McFadden’s book.

While students from all grades at St. Angela Merici School had the opportunity to contribute illustrations, Seelie said the project can be offered to a single grade level or group of grades.

For more information about the book and Imagine The World, visit TheWholeHumanRace.com.

 

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