Because we believe that all students’ voices are valuable and brilliant, 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, rewrite, and develop their pieces. 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.
We’re proud of everything we publish at 826 Valencia, but we get particularly excited about our annual Young Authors’ Book Project. Each year, we partner with a local high school to produce an anthology of student work. Over the course of a semester, our tutors work one-on-one with the students, helping them polish their drafts to a high shine. A self-selected group of students and volunteers forms the Editorial Board, which edits each essay, comes up with the title, and co-writes an introduction. These books are sold at bookstores big and small all over the country. They’re a big source of pride for us, and for the young authors.
Read more about past volumes of the Young Authors’ Book Project, which was first published in 2003.
The 826 Quarterly
Between 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, In-Schools projects, and After-school Tutoring program, but we also take at-large submissions from authors ages 6—18.
Students enrolled in our After-School Tutoring Program collaborate to produce Look Closer/Mira de cerca, a bilingual chapbook of original writing published twice a year. 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 in 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, printed, and bound in-house. Each time we release a new volume of Look Closer/Mira de cerca, our young authors celebrate by reading their pieces to fellow students, families, tutors, and teachers. All of our chapbooks are currently for sale in the Pirate Supply Store.
826 Valencia’s Exploring Words Summer Camp is a five-week program for third- through fifth-graders, many of whom have been working with us throughout the school year in our after-school programs. These students explore creative writing and science through reading, writing, and hands-on activities that strengthen the STEM curriculum (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). Throughout the camp, students conduct science experiments, craft original stories, and write with the one-on-one support of tutors. At the end of the five weeks, students will have developed a portfolio of their work, and we publish a chapbook of their selected writing.
In 2013, we brought our model of after-school writing table to Buena Vista Horace Mann, a bilingual K–8 school in San Francisco’s Mission District. The Hot Sauce Planet was the third publication to come out of the program aimed at 3rd- 4th, and 5th-grade English Learners and students reading and writing below grade level. Each semester this program culminates with a polished and brightly-colored collection of short fiction, poetry, and personal narrative. The students write on different weekly prompts, tackling topics such as perseverance, responsibility, strength, and bravery, and work with tutors to learn to stretch their imaginations, invent characters, and offer explanations for the world around them.
The Straight-up News
The Straight-up News is written by the students of Everett Middle School with the help of 826 Valencia’s volunteers. The school is currently in its eleventh year of hosting 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’ Jason Ellison and Jose Vizcaino, as well as Q & A’s with comedians Eddie Griffin and George Lopez. Written in Everett Middle School’s Writers’ Room as one of the cornerstone projects of our In-Schools Programming.
The Sun’s Glare, Fall 2014
A product of the Wilderness Arts and Literacy Collaborative at Downtown High School, an interdisciplinary environmental studies program that integrates science, art, literacy, history, and math through environmental themes.
The foundational project of the Writers’ Room at Mission High, which opened in the fall of 2014, Mission Magazine is written by a different group of students each year, and is dedicated to social justice issues and subjects the student authors are passionate about. On shelves now at the Pirate Supply Store. Read more about our satellite Writers’ Rooms.
Our in-house newspaper, the Valencia Bay-farer, is the product of a six-week evening workshop held once per season for journalists between the ages of eight and thirteen. The students are joined by volunteers who help them research, interview, write, fact-check, edit, and ultimately polish their articles. Topics covered range from serious to silly, with students reporting on everything from the political issues of the day, to reviews of local playgrounds, to speculation about skateboards of the future (hoverboards, of course!). The paper is produced and printed in-house, and the publication is celebrated with a reading and release party where journalists read their pieces aloud to family and friends.
Writing and Publishing Apprentices brings together students aged 13–18 and writing professionals for a semester-long workshop designed to develop a creative writing project of the student’s choice. The workshop gives young writers an opportunity to learn a variety of skills from professional writers and editors and to get college writing-workshop style feedback from peers and from tutors. The group meets weekly to write, polish, and eventually publish their work. Read more about workshops at 826.
For four years, Slick Magazine was the cornerstone project of our Writers’ Room at James Lick Middle School. In this final issue, eighth graders addressed important issues like school uniforms, honors classes, the importance of P.E., and the pressure to succeed in school, as well topics with wider social implications like killer whales in captivity, the life of a newspaper photographer, and the mystery of Amelia Earhart. 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.
In 2002, Houghton-Mifflin 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). Now, every week from August through December, a student committee meets with the folks at McSweeny’s 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. Purchase.