RiAnne Smith holding the book she wrote, "Ellie's First Day"

RiAnne Smith, a fourth grade student at Fitzgerald Elementary School, is known for being a natural storyteller. RiAnne had an idea for a book about a child named Ellie who was apprehensive about starting a new tap dance class. While she didn't have the ability to write the story at that time, she had the words, so she dictated the entire book.

The book, “Ellie's First Day,” tells the story of a child who is encouraged to try new things and works hard to improve her skills. RiAnne knew she had to do the same things as Ellie if she wanted her book to be a success, and she did just that. After dictating the story, she edited the text and improved the dialogue. She then worked with a professional illustrator - approving character designs, providing reference photos, and fine tuning the illustrations to match her vision.

The launch was successful and just a few short months later, “Ellie’s First Day” was awarded a Story Monster’s Approved seal. The Story Monsters Approved program recognizes and honors authors in the field of children’s literature whose books inspire, inform, teach, or entertain. What makes this book program unique is that every book submitted is judged on its own merit. Each book competes only with itself. And since kids assist industry experts in judging submissions, when a book earns the Story Monsters Seal of approval, it means that children are recommending the book for other children to read, too.

"We're really proud of RiAnne," said Rachelle Jones Smith, RiAnne’s mother. "The book is entirely her own and it shares a lesson of confidence, befriending and helping others, and of practice. RiAnne worked closely with her illustrator to make sure the book looked the way she wanted it to and was clear on her vision from the start. Considering that she's worked so hard to reach grade level reading fluency, it's amazing to see her successful as a 10-year-old author."

As a result of her hard work and determination, RiAnne reads significantly better and has even hosted a reading of her own work. Since the launch, RiAnne has held a book signing and has participated in multiple events. She is already working on her next book, which her classmates hope to be featured in.