Our Programs


Students Jennifer, Aress, and Niat (from left to right) see their stories in print for the first time at the 2010 Young Authors’ Book Project celebration.

Because we believe the proof is in the pudding, 826 programs almost always end with a finished product, such as a newspaper, a book, or a film. This teaching model, known as project-based learning, encourages students to collaborate and to make creative decisions, and gives them ownership over the learning process. Working toward a goal, our students are inspired to revise until their work is perfect. They leave with new skills and a new-found passion for writing. To this end, we’ve published thousands of books of all shapes and sizes — ranging from chapbooks to paperbacks and hard-covers with magazines, newspapers, ‘zines, and essays in between.

A big list of our publishing projects is below, but for a quick glimpse at some stellar student writing, visit our online gallery of student work.

Young Authors’ Book Project

We’re proud of everything we publish at 826 Valencia, but we get particularly excited about our annual Young Authors’ Book Project. Each year, an influential and well-known mentor partners with a particularly at-risk school to sponsor an anthology of student work. Over the course of a semester, our tutors work with the students, polishing their drafts to a high shine. When the book is finished, the sponsor writes an introduction and hosts a reading for all the students and their families. Because of the well-known sponsors (Khaled Hosseini, Amy Tan, Isabel Allende, Robin Williams, Mayor Gavin Newsom) and the professional quality of the publications, students work diligently on their essays and become very invested in the publishing process. They’re involved every step of the way, from editing to design. Ultimately, several thousand of these books are produced and sold at bookstores big and small all over the country. They’re a big source of pride for us, and for the young authors.

Uncharted Places: An Atlas of Being HereUncharted Places: An Atlas of Being Here, 2014

The 52 personal essays in this collection were penned by seniors at Thurgood Marshall Academic High School, ten years after the debut of the Young Authors’ Book Project at the very same school in 2004. Over the course of a semester the students wrote on the topic of place, searching for their place in the world, ultimately seeking the most elusive of treasures: the unfindable home. Be it metaphorical or explicit, these young men and women write about places that make them feel safe, that make them feel whole. They write about wishing to be seen for who they are, for more than who they are. They write about the pain of not being heard, and the triumph of finding their voice. With a foreword by Rabih Alameddine. Purchase.

The Enter Question, 2013

In 2013, young authors from San Francisco International High School worked with our volunteer tutors for a semester to write, refine, and edit this collection of essays about, in their words, “What it is like to start over in a new place.” SFIHS is a high school specially designed for students who have recently immigrated to the United States, and the essays in The Enter Question cover a wide variety of topics including the challenges of communicating in a new language, the courage it takes to ask for help, and the joy in meeting new people from all over the world.

Arrive, Breathe, and Be Still, 2012

In this collection by thirty-five students at Downtown High School in San Francisco, the young writers explore the themes of resistance and resilience through their original monologues and plays. After a semester of working intensely with actors at American Conservatory Theater and writing tutors from 826 Valencia, the students produced this powerful look into the pressures surrounding young people, and the strength it takes to keep going. Perfect for reading or performing, these pieces are a refreshing tool for using theater in the classroom or outside of it. Purchase.

BeyBeyond Stolen Flames, Forbidden Fruit, and Telephone Booths, 2011

In this collection of essays and short stories written by 53 juniors and seniors at June Jordan School for Equity, young writers explore the role of myth in our world today. Students write pieces of fiction and nonfiction, retelling old myths, creating new ones, celebrating everyday heroes, and recognizing the stories that their families have told over and over. The result is a collection with a powerful message about the stories that have shaped students’ perspectives and the world they know. With a foreword by Khaled Hosseini. Purchase.

We the DreamersWe the Dreamers: Young Authors Explore the American Dream, 2010

In this collection of essays by 50 juniors at John O’Connell High School, young writers reflect on what the American Dream means to them. The students recount stories about family, home, immigration, hardship, and the hopes of their generation as well as those of the generation that raised them. The result is a firsthand account of these essayists’ often complicated relationship with our national ethos that is insightful, impassioned, surprising, and of utmost importance to our understanding of what the American Dream means for their generation. With a foreword by Daniel Alarcón. Purchase.

Show of HandsShow of Hands: Young Authors Reflect on the Golden Rule, 2009

This collection of stories and essays, written by fifty-four juniors and seniors at Mission High School in San Francisco, amplifies the voices of students as they reflect on one of humanity’s most revered guides for moral behavior: the Golden Rule, which tells us that we should act toward others as we would want them to act toward us. Whether speaking about global issues, street violence, or the way to behave among friends and family, the voices of these young essayists are thoughtful, brilliant, impassioned, surprising, and, most of all, urgent.

Seeing Through the FogSeeing Through the Fog: A Gateway to San Francisco, 2008

Seeing Through the Fog: A Gateway to San Francisco is a collection of stories and essays written by seventy-two seniors at Gateway High School to guide locals, tourists, and armchair travelers alike to new places and new ways of seeing through the San Francisco fog. This exceptional collection of writing is about the smell of a burrito shop in the Mission. It’s about how to tackle Macy’s as a tourist. It is about running away from bison in Golden Gate Park. It’s about bartering for lunch at the farmers’ market and about buying fashion accessories for $2.99. It’s about the local characters, slang, a couple ghosts, and some secret places. Purchase.

ExactlyExactly: 10 Beavers, 9 Fairies, 8 Dreams, 7 Knights, 6 Princesses, 5 Dogs, 4 Otters, 3 Old Men, 2 Robots, 1 Traveling Shoe & Everything Else It Takes to Make a Great Children’s Storybook (More or Less) , 2007

The fifty-six children’s tales in this anthology were written by students at Raoul Wallenberg Traditional High School in San Francisco. Each author crafted an original story or fable designed to provide entertainment and life lessons to the next generation. The stories have been vividly illustrated by professional artists — in full color — and the result is a witty and wonderfully written book so eye-catching and endearing it will delight exactly everyone, no matter their age. Purchase.

Home Wasn't Built in a DayHome Wasn’t Built In A Day: Constructing the Stories of Our Families, 2006

Written by juniors and seniors at the Galileo Academy of Science and Technology, this collection of touching and insightful stories explores the myths and realities of what makes a family a family. Home Wasn’t Built in a Day includes a foreword by Robin Williams. Purchase.

I Might Get SomewhereI Might Get Somewhere: Oral Histories of Immigration and Migration, 2005

This compelling collection of personal stories by by Balboa High School’s class of 2007 reflects on the problems and pleasures of life in new surroundings. It includes a foreword by author Amy Tan. Out of print.

Waiting to Be HeardWaiting to Be Heard: Youth Speak Out About Inheriting a Violent World, 2004

This anthology by students at Thurgood Marshall Academic High School offers passionate, lucid statements about personal, local, and global issues — the way high school students would have you hear them. It includes a foreword by Isabel Allende. Out of print.

Talking BackTalking Back: What Students Know About Teaching, 2003

Students from Leadership High School discuss the relationships they want to have with their teachers and the ways they view classroom life. Out of print.

The Straight-up News

Straight-Up NewsThe Straight-up News is a newspaper written by the students of Everett Middle School with the help of 826 Valencia’s volunteers. The Everett Middle School student journalists are currently in their seventh year of learning about investigative journalism, feature writing, comics, and engaging interviews.

Previous issues have featured interviews with ghost hunter Jim Fassbinder, Pixar animator Gabriel Slumberger, The Giants’s Jason Ellison and Jose Vizcaino, as well as Q & A’s with actors/comedians Eddie Griffin and George Lopez. Written in Everett Middle School’s Writers’ Room.

The 826 Quarterly

The 826 QuarterlyBetween two and seventeen times a year, we publish student writing in The 826 Quarterly, a literary journal written entirely by young people. With material ranging from villanelles about water snakes to exposés on UFOs, The 826 Quarterly is easily one of the most diverse publications at 826 — or anywhere, for that matter. Reading it feels like any of the following activities: playing with a crate full of puppies, each one cuter than the last; wearing a sweater that may or may not be made out of unicorn hair; doing laundry in a washing machine that is much too small to easily fit any of your clothes. The point is that you don’t quite know how it’s going to feel. Purchase.

Most of the material for The 826 Quarterly comes from our workshops and After-school Tutoring program, but we also take at-large submissions.

Take a peek below this picture of a squid to find out how to submit your work:

A squid.

Submission guidelines

We prefer electronic submissions. Send them to 826quarterly@gmail.com

Don’t forget to include the following information with your submission: your name, your email address, the name of your school, your age, and the name and phone number of your parents or guardians.

If you do send a hard copy, we won’t be able to return it to you, so please don’t send us the only copy of your work! We are happy to receive your stories, poems, essays, comic strips, interviews, everything. The work can be one image, a series of sonnets, or a twenty-page narrative. We are looking for work that you are proud of. Share with us your creativity, original voice, and honesty.

We will let you know if your work is selected for publication either online or in the quarterly. Please note that work posted in the Writing Gallery will not necessarily be published in The 826 Quarterly.

We can’t wait to see what you’ve got for us!

Best American Nonrequired Reading

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2010Since 2002, publisher Houghton-Mifflin has contracted 826 Valencia to compile the Best American Nonrequired Reading (BANR), an annual collection of fiction, essays, comics, and journalism geared for readers under age 25 (although read by just about anyone). Every week from August through December, a student committee meets to gather possible material from national periodicals and discuss it. The pieces the committee selects are published in an annual volume and sold in bookstores all over the country.


In the second issue of Slick, eighth graders from James Lick Middle School address important issues like life with ADHD, skateboarding, the DREAM Act, and the life of Ritchie Valens. Students in a peer resources class work with tutors—many of whom are professional journalists and writers—to produce a magazine that educates the community on healthy lifestyle choices. Purchase.

SlickSlick is the cornerstone of our Writers’ Room at James Lick Middle School. This magazine is published twice yearly, and features articles about the school community and healthy lifestyle choices relevant to middle school students. Many of the tutors for the magazine project are professional journalists or have worked for magazines, and the team of volunteers includes writers who have been published in Wired magazine, Salon.com, the BBC, and San Francisco Magazine.

Look Closer

Look Closer

Students enrolled in our After-school Tutoring Program write Look Closer/Mira de Cerca, a bilingual chapbook of original writing. The selected stories, poems, and essays reflect work produced at The Writing Table. Upon completing homework assignments, students visit The Writing Table and are engaged with contemplative writing exercises. With the support of Writing Table coordinators, students select their better pieces, then revise and edit their own work. Finally, these pieces are translated, published, and bound in-house. Each time we release Look Closer/Mira de Cerca, our young authors read their pieces to fellow students, families, tutors, and teachers.