Community Youth Storytelling

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Community Youth Storytelling

Book Collaboration with Community Youth

Many of my assignments focus on how to integrate the community into the design process. Specifically, I focus on the representation of marginalized voices in design and how design can give voice or communicate their experiences.

In this project, students developed illustration and typographic layout skills to create a successfully bound children’s book. Students were required to debrief their client, in this case, a youth from the Neighborhood Youth Services, an afterschool program for families with a low economic background and subsequently a high population of people of color. I required the students to read through their assigned story and break up the story where they see fit, mimicking the real-life experience of a client needing a lot of guidance. Each spread included at least one illustration. Students research book illustrators to be inspired to create an engaging and interesting story.

Debriefing Our Client

Before the project began, I provided the youth at Neighborhood Youth Services (NYS) with prompts. I gave them to the volunteers who worked with the youth to write up a story. The prompt topics included superheroes, animals, and monsters. On the prompt sheet, I asked questions like: “What would you like to name your characters? What are your favorite colors? What types of books/movies do you like? What kind of story would you like to tell?”. I then gave them room to draw a scene from their story.

At the beginning of the project, my students met their NYS youth at Washington Center. The photos above are from the first session. There was so much energy and the students were very excited to be working with the NYS youths.

Final Books

After the completion of the books, the students came back to NYS to present the final results to the youth. The youth were floored at their concepts that came to life. I am quite proud of the final products.

The work featured above are from the following students:

  • “Fighting Friends” Story written by Devon, Illustrations by Shannon Conway
  • “Heroes Versus Heroes” Illustrations and Layout by Carter Shades
  • “The Super Squad” Written by Devon, Illustrated by Caleb Vandenheuvel
  • “Selena Sky and the Weather Wand” Written by Rubena Illustrated by Danielle Peterson