butterfly cut out book writing

ForWords has published 25 books of student work. Here are samples from various genres-poetry & odes, historical fiction, memoir, and fiction.

1000 Words Poetry

ForWords & Middle School Partnership

This project is a collection of poetry written by middle school students in partnership with ForWords master teachers and the eighth grade English teacher. Students wrote original poems based on compelling photographs.

The poems were then compiled and published by ForWords Literacy Lab. Upon publication, students were invited to read their poems at a public celebration held at Barnes and Noble Booksellers.

Freedom is a hummingbird
dancing to the wind
with its wings flapping rapidly

Freedom is black eyes searching
chasing the sweet smell
of roses in the air.

Legacy Unmasked

ForWords Literacy Lab Publication

student art, masks decorated with cultural inspirations

Legacy Unmasked, a collection of writing and masks, showcases student work from a research project about one’s home country and its cultural elements. Throughout the year ForWords students interviewed family members about the culture of their home country. What better way to learn about one’s family then to talk to grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and parents about food, celebrations, games, treasured objects and traditions? This project culminated in the creation of poems and masks that illuminate their aspects of their heritage.

legacy unmasked book cover

Ode to My Parents


Sweet yellow corn
Was planted by my parents.
And when time came, picked out
taken to the family kitchen
and turned into plain delicious circle shaped tortillas
Eaten by my parents with queso y chile
would keep them full
for a better day.

Sweet yellow corn
The fields where my parents worked day and night
till the bright burning sunsets.
After school straight to the fields they go
with the mindset that working hard everyday will someday pay off.
They want a life with better education and jobs like the people who live in the U.S.
who have a better life.

Sweet yellow corn,
the fields where my parents were born.
It was their other home.
The place they spent most of their lifetime
making their daughter proud
of such hard work.
They contributed to their family.
Now they deserve to rest, enjoying their days and lives.

Mi Familia

ForWords Literacy Lab and San Rafael High School

book cover Mi Familia

ForWords Literacy Lab works in partnership with the Banyan Integrated Studies Program at San Rafael High School. ForWords Teacher Consultants coached Banyan students in their writing of historical fiction stories based on research about their home countries. The students read Isobel Allende's House of Spirits and then wrote their own stories which resulted in the ForWords supported publication of an anthology of these stories entitled, "Mi Familia."

Never Give Up

ForWords Literacy Lab Publication

Everyone has a story to tell, to share their life experiences. Do you wish others would really ‘see’ you and know you through the telling of your story, your struggles, your hopes, your dreams? The emerging English Learners in the classrooms where ForWords works wrote memoirs of their experiences. In the words of one of their teachers, “They are human stories, like mine and yours. And each story, as stories go, has a conflict, and some sort of resolution, whether or not it goes the way we would like. There is no exception here. And they want to tell us, no matter what, never give up.”

book cover never give up

“When I Came to the United States”


“When I came to United States, I felt that this country was more different than mine. In my country I had my friends and here I didn’t know if people were good or bad. I was afraid because I didn’t understand when they spoke to me. I didn’t have any idea what they said. Sometimes I thought I wouldn’t be able to learn to speak English because I didn’t understand what I was learning…In the United States I started to learn to speak English. Learning English is the most important, but difficult. English has words that have two meanings and it is hard to memorize them. I also forget certain words and sometimes confuse their meanings. I discovered a good way to learn English very fast. I found that reading books, listening to English music and overhearing conversations in English helped me learn the language faster. As a result, I passed onto a high level of English in half a year.

‘We need to study because studying is the most important thing in order to find a good work. These words were said by my brother and I learned many things with him. He is the person who also taught me how to drive. He was telling something about his life and that if we have a dream, we need to follow it. Because to have a dream is knowing what you want later in life.

I questioned, ‘Why do I study?’ This question I had in mind but when I was texting with my brother I changed my mind. He told me that you need to study because you need to find your dream. I thought that I needed to be different and every day I still try to do something new. I learned something with my brother. He taught something that I would never forget. He taught me to do something new everyday and to not try to be like any other person because each person is unique and each person has different ideas.”

How Does the Outsider Feel...On the Inside?

ForWords and Poetry

“How Does the Outsider Feel….On the Inside?” is an anthology of stories and poems written by the English Language Learner classes at San Rafael High School.  This program is a collaboration between ForWords Literacy Lab and San Rafael High School.  ForWords Teacher Consultants worked with these English language learners assisting them with their writing and technology skills.  ForWords Literacy Lab supported the publication of this collection and each student received a copy of the book.

Coming Home

ForWords Literacy Lab Publication

student art, lino prints

ForWords students study various genres of writing, learning to use language expressively, creatively, and purposefully. After working with Marin County Poet Laureate, Rebecca Foust, attending various poetry readings, spoken word events, and performing their own works at two local bookstores, ForWords students published Coming Home, a collection of odes. The illustrations in this ForWords publication is a series of lino prints that symbolically represent themes and ideas in the collection.

coming home book cover, balck and white lino print art of a woman

Where I'm From


I am from an old yellow house being fixed
to playing with dolls
From the pencil and paper
to my successes making me feel proud

I am from a neighborhood
of different kinds of people
All with kindness
A place of perseverance

I am from hairyness to shortness
Given to me by the Ruiz and Martinez
I am from las posadas and lots of parties
And from a big loving family
To the family who’s hard working

I am from falling down, but always getting back up
I am from my grandparents and the ones before them
From comida Mexicana to different kinds of new foods

All the way to celebrating Dia De Los Muertos
And the memories of happiness
Turning bullies into good, making hate to happiness

I am from those moments that fall apart
But get back together
I am the person who has the life that isn’t

Portfolio of Works

ForWords Literacy Lab

Students created a portfolio of their written work in order to improve essential skills needed for 21st century academic and employment worlds. The students used the portfolios to write, rewrite, assess, reflect on their writing and in the process, develop all of their expressive skills.

The students created resumes, employment letters, personal narratives, school projects, set goals, and planned the school year. They developed English vocabulary, worked on grammar, applied writing skills to science and math projects, and shared writing in class.