Seventeen students from Mt. Ararat Middle School are celebrating the recent release of their book of short stories, “A Glimpse of My Shadow,” published through a project with The Telling Room.

The theme was mystery and many of the students veered toward horror, a genre popular with youth, said Amy Kimball, a teaching artist with The Telling Room who worked with the students at the Topsham school. The Telling Room is a nonprofit literary arts education organization in Portland.

The new book by 17 students at Mt. Ararat Middle School. Contributed / The Telling Room

“They love the opportunity to write whatever they want,” Kimball said. “It’s really freeing for them to jump in and write what’s in their heart.”

While each student produced a story on their own, as a group they participated in workshops and creativity exercises, shared their work and gave each other feedback.

“Often in school you’re working individually and graded individually, so it’s great to work with other people and be inspired by what they can do,” said Isaac Wright, a 14-year-old author.

The experience “turned writing into more of a process that uses my imagination,” Wright said. “We can do better work when it’s not being scored.”


Seeing their published book was a big moment for the kids, Kimball said.

“They were really excited to see their own words in a book they could hold. There’s nothing like seeing their faces on that day,” she said.

“It was great to see the print copy,” Wright said. “We’d put a lot of hard work and effort into it, and it was put into a final format and made to look nice, so it’s cool.”

The students participated in warm-up creative exercises to get their ideas flowing. Contributed / The Telling Room

“I was really proud seeing it and proud of everyone who worked on it and myself,” said Anne Dostie, 13.

Dostie hadn’t spent much time writing creatively before working with The Telling Room, but the project “got me to have fun creating stories,” she said.

Kimball said one of the student’s parents told her that her son hadn’t seen himself as a strong writer going into the project, but he ended up really loving it.


Students read their stories aloud at a book launch event, which was “really awesome,” Kimball said.

The young writers mostly are part of the school’s Gateways Program for gifted and talented students, but teachers could also recommend students not involved in that program to participate in The Telling Room project.

Mount Ararat Middle School has a longstanding teacher in residence relationship with The Telling Room and work will resume with many of the same students again in January.

Linda Koch, the Mt. Ararat Gateways Program teacher who facilitated the project, said that as long as they are able, Mt. Ararat will continue to work with The Telling Room so that as many students as possible can participate.

“A Glimpse of My Shadow” can be ordered on The Telling Room’s website,

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