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The Monster Gasped - A reading by Brentano 4th & 5th Graders with 826CHI

City Lit Books, June 7, 2016

The Monster Gasped is an anthology of monster stories written by 57 fourth- and fifth-graders from Brentano, a Chicago Public School just west of the Kennedy Expressway in Logan Square. The students created the book with the help of volunteers from 826CHI, a Wicker Park-based nonprofit dedicated to inspiring students ages 6 to 18 to cultivate their writing skills. The group is a local offshoot of 826 National, founded in 2002 by author Dave Eggers and educator Nínive Calegari.Read More

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826CHI and CPS students publish a monster of an anthology

Chicago Reader, June 3, 2016

When we last checked in with Mr. Harlan's fifth-graders at Brentano Math and Science Academy in Logan Square back in December, they were putting the finishing touches on the monster stories they'd been working on all semester under the editorial guidance of volunteers from 826CHI, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center in Wicker Park. Now they, and a few fourth-graders, are published authors who will be making their public debuts at the Printers Row Book Festival, reading from the new anthology of their stories, The Monster Gasped, OMG!
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‘The Monster Gasped’ collects monster stories by Logan Square middle schoolers

Chicago Tribune, May 26, 2016

Illustrator Ryan Troy Ford lives in Logan Square, home to vibrant street murals, lively arts festivals and Chicago's heavily tattooed creative class.

But it's the work of Vanessa Benavides, a fourth-grader at Lorenz Brentano Math and Science Academy, that's recently blowing his mind.

"There's this mermaid who swims around and finds herself in a cave with an evil woman whose dress is made of fire and the mermaid defeats her with love," Ford said. "A strong female lead who defeats evil with love? (Expletive) yeah. I was all about that."Read More

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Nothing To Fear

F Newsmagazine, May 19, 2016

Fear takes different forms throughout our lives, but it never truly goes away. Sometimes it takes the imagination and sincerity of a child to face it, to realize there is no shame in acknowledging it’s there. This is what 57 fourth and fifth graders from Logan Square’s Brentano Math and Science Academy have done, in the form of a book project titled “The Monster Gasped, OMG!” Not only have they written about fear, but also loneliness, adventure, compassion, and the simple frustration of being misunderstood in this compilation of science fiction, adventure, and monster stories. Under the direction of the organization 826CHI, and alongside the creative vision of 24 local illustrators (including three School of the Art Institute of Chicago alumni), this compilation has been printed and bound — a beautifully-crafted “how-to” for navigating life and its myriad fears.Read More

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Logan Square Students’ Monster Book Terribly Terrific

DNA Info Chicago, May 6, 2016

LOGAN SQUARE — A monster anthology crafted by a group of fifth graders in Logan Square, complete with professional illustrations, is nearly ready for its debut.

You might describe it as frighteningly good.

The fifth graders from Logan Square's Brentano Math and Science Academy have been working on their 217-page book alongside the professionals and volunteers at 826CHI since September and will be celebrating its release at the Printer's Row Lit Fest June 11.Read More

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Logan Square Fifth-Graders Publish Sci-Fi Monster Book

DNA Info - January 27, 2016

LOGAN SQUARE — Expressing your fears is easier when it’s done through someone else’s voice.

That’s why the fifth-graders at Brentano Math and Science Academy in Logan Square created a monster to do the talking for them. Mark Harlan’s fifth-grade class has been working in partnership with Wicker Park-based nonprofit 826CHI to develop an encyclopedia of monsters that reflect their own individual fears and desires.Read More

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826CHI Hosts Charitable Scrabble Tournament

Third Coast Review - January 26, 2016

826CHI, the nonprofit creative writing and tutoring center for children, is hosting a charity scrabble tournament in late February. The tournament pits teams of two against each other in a day long battle of wits and words. Each team must raise $500 to compete. 826CHI suggests raising this sum through peer to peer fundraising (asking 25 friends for $20). During game play, you use your $500 to buy “cheats” which help you take down your opponents. It should be noted that teams are required to dress in costume. Games last 45 minutes, and it’s an all day event.Read More

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826CHI and CPS Team Up to Produce an Anthology of Monster Stories From Young Authors

Chicago Reader - December 16, 2015

These are strange days for the Chicago Public Schools, but on the Tuesday morning before winter break, the fifth-graders in Mr. Harlan's class at Brentano Math and Science Academy in Logan Square are less concerned with the prospect of a teachers' strike than with coming up with satisfying endings for the monster stories they've been writing all semester with help from volunteers at 826CHI, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center in Wicker Park. 826 has partnered with CPS to produce an anthology of the stories that will be published in the spring.

First, though, the students have to finish writing. They've pushed their desks into clusters and sit expectantly in front of their school-issued laptops.Read More

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Arts Groups and Educators Show Solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter

Chicago Reader - December 4 2015

Last Tuesday, just before the Chicago Police Department released the video of officer Jason Van Dyke shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald to death, the Chicago Public Schools sent out a letter to all parents and guardians. Signed by chief education officer Janice K. Jackson, it announced that the video would not be shown in CPS schools but that counseling would be available for traumatized students and a "toolkit" was being prepared for students to initiate conversations at home.

The following day, Amanda Lichtenstein, the educational director of 826CHI, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center in Wicker Park, began drafting a letter to her staff, briefing them on the case and asking for suggestions for how to to discuss the video with 826 students.
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GirlForward Gives Teenage Refugee Girls a Chance to Grow

Chicago Reader - September 16, 2015

When Tiruwerk was seven years old, the police came to her home in Khartoum, Sudan, and took her father away. "They sent him away for two weeks and they beat him a lot of times," she wrote in the memoir I Remember . . . published through 826Chi. "I said that I wished that I was beaten and not my lovely daddy!"

According to the story, police took her father twice; the second time he was gone for three years, leaving Tiruwerk, her sister, her brothers, and her mother alone to fend for themselves. "We used to have a lot of animals like dogs, cows, sheep, and chickens, but we started selling them because we didn't have enough money after my father left," she continued. "Some of the animals were dying because they didn’t have enough food, so it was better to sell them."Read More

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