Fratt Elementary teacher Emily Corr has been a Title I reading teacher for 10 years, but she only recently considered writing a book herself.

After a visit last year from a self-published author, she got the idea to write, “Follow Your Arrow,” a rhyming story that encourages students to persevere even when the clouds are darkest. Now Corr is a self-published author, too.

“It was always in the back of my mind, but after we had the self-published author visit, it just seemed more doable,” Corr said. “She really planted the seed, and I see how books touch kids so I decided to do it.”

To hear directly from Corr, click here for a “People of Racine County Eye” video.

After writing the words last summer, Corr said she had some ideas on how to illustrate the book that eventually morphed into having her students design and color the arrows to match the theme of each page. She credits her friendship with Jennifer Ruetz, a local graphic designer, for helping the ideas coalesce into the final product.

“I hear kids say profound things and realized that they would contribute profound illustrations,” she added. “Jennifer knew exactly how to pull it all together, and that’s how we got ‘Follow Your Arrow.'”

Most of the arrows in the book were created by 5th grade students, but children as young as kindergarten also colored pictures for the story.

Corr’s students are thrilled to be part of the book.

“(This is) exciting because I like being in a real book. I’m an illustrator now,” 3rd grader Madeline Hirsch said.

Randie Langdon, one of Corr’s 5th grade students, agreed, “It’s exciting because it’s not something that happens very often. It makes me happy that I’m in a book and that I’ve accomplished something special.”

The primary message of “Follow Your Arrow” comes from a quote Corr said touched her a long time ago: In order for an arrow to go forward, it has to be pulled back.

“My grandmother would say, ‘this, too, shall pass,’ and I want students to know that there’s more than just the tough spot they’re in,” she continued.

Illustrating the book has clearly had an affect on her students. 5th grader Julia Keeran feels like she may have found a possible career.

“It feels like once in a lifetime that I get to work with somebody so awesome. It makes me feel that when I’m older maybe I could do something like this,” she said.

Follow Your Arrow” is available in softcover for $15 at lulu.com.

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