Cherry Hill East Writing Club hosts book fair


Enis Ercan ('24)

Yeh (’24) pictured with her original book.

Cherry Hill East Writing Club (CHEW) held its second-ever display of student-written children’s books on May 19th. Held in B241 during lunch break, books written by East students were lined up on a table for everyone to see and read. The CHEW club came into being last year when Vivian Rong (‘23) and Alena Zhang (‘23) became inspired by a BookMates program at their middle school and wished to bring the idea to East.

“Writing was always pretty stressful,” said Rong. “And we wanted that stigma to change.” And so CHEW was born.

Students at CHEW now have the opportunity to write their own children’s books throughout the year. The system is quite laid back and flexible, with help from colleagues available at all times. Writers can make their own illustrations or have them done by willing peers. When books are finished and printed at the end of the year, writers may go to lower-level schools in underprivileged areas to read them to younger students. This charitable premise for underprivileged children’s entertainment is the cornerstone of the club and makes writing an adventure rather than a toil for high schoolers.

Books on display also went on offer to be sold. For every purchased book, another one was donated to an underprivileged elementary school library, as per CHEW club’s community aims.

“This year, I think there were twenty-two books being made, and there were over sixty people involved…a bunch of different artists, writers, and authors from all different grade levels,” said Zhang. The club’s founders hope to continue to increase the number of writers and participants in upcoming years, including another book showcase by September or October.

In the meantime, this year’s book display seemed an outstanding success, as students milled around with (complimentary) cake in their hands, read, and discussed. Friendly cheer ran high, with many purchases being made amidst the conversation.

The joyfully written and beautifully illustrated books addressed a variety of topics. Froggy, Frogette, and the Secret Pie read the title of one and contained the story of two frogs in an everlasting cooking rivalry. Matcha Ice Cream – An Analogy to Climate Change, read another. In it, the global crisis of climate change is addressed through the clever analogy of melting ice cream. The author, Crystal Yeh (‘24), explained that she wanted her book to serve as a sort of ode to the worldwide climate issue- in a fun way that could be understood by children.

“I’m very involved in just climate action in general,” she said. “I had a lot of people review [the book],…even my little cousin… an actual child… said ‘she really enjoyed it and would read it over and over again,’ and I was really happy about that.”

She also attested to the spot-on advice of her proofreaders at CHEW: “I got some criticism from my friends about it being…not really a reference but more of me directly telling what it was – so I had to make it more simplified and more kid-friendly.” The end result was quite the entertaining and indirectly informative read, as many of the visitors to the display found.

Through a supportive network of fellow writers, editors, and illustrators, CHEW club continues its mission to reduce the stigma around writing, provide an outlet for aspiring student writers, and pursue its charitable goals for local children. Any and all students are welcome to take part in the program next year, both to contribute to the community while enjoying themselves with casual writing.