Our Programs


Students Jennifer, Aress, and Niat (from left to right) see their stories in print for the first time at the 2010 Young Authors’ Book Project celebration.

Because we believe the proof is in the pudding, 826 programs almost always end with a finished product, such as a newspaper, a book, or a film. This teaching model, known as project-based learning, encourages students to collaborate and to make creative decisions, and gives them ownership over the learning process. Working toward a goal, our students are inspired to revise until their work is perfect. They leave with new skills and a new-found passion for writing. To this end, we’ve published thousands of books of all shapes and sizes — ranging from chapbooks to paperbacks and hard-covers with magazines, newspapers, ‘zines, and essays in between.

A big list of our publishing projects is below, but for a quick glimpse at some stellar student writing, visit our online gallery of student work.

Book cover Uncharted PlacesYoung Authors’ Book Project

Uncharted Places: An Atlas of Being Here, 2014
The 52 personal essays in this collection were penned by seniors at Thurgood Marshall Academic High School, ten years after the debut of the project at the very same school in 2004. Over the course of a semester the students worked one-on-one with a fleet of volunteer tutors, writing on the topic of place, searching for their place in the world, ultimately seeking the most elusive of treasures: the unfindable home. Be it metaphorical or explicit, these young authors write about places that make them feel safe, that make them feel whole. They write about wishing to be seen for who they are, for more than who they are. They write about the pain of not being heard, and the triumph of finding their voice. With a foreword by Rabih Alameddine. Purchase.

Read more about past volumes of the Young Authors’ Book Project, which was first published in 2003.

The 826 Quarterly volume 20 book coverThe 826 Quarterly

Volume 20, Fall 2014
Between two and seventeen times a year, we publish student writing in the 826 Quarterly, a literary journal written entirely by young people. With material ranging from villanelles about water snakes to exposés on UFOs, the 826 Quarterly is easily one of the most diverse publications at 826 — or anywhere, for that matter. Reading it feels like any of the following activities: playing with a crate full of puppies, each one cuter than the last; wearing a sweater that may or may not be made out of unicorn hair; doing laundry in a washing machine that is much too small to easily fit any of your clothes. The point is that you don’t quite know how it’s going to feel. Purchase.

Most of the material for the 826 Quarterly comes from our workshops, In-Schools projects, and After-school Tutoring program, but we also take at-large submissions.

Submission guidelines
We prefer electronic submissions. Please send them to 826quarterly@gmail.com.

Don’t forget to include the following information with your submission: your name, your email address, the name of your school, your age, and the name and phone number of your parents or guardians. If you do send a hard copy, we won’t be able to return it to you, so please don’t send us the only copy of your work! We are happy to receive your stories, poems, essays, comic strips, interviews, everything. The work can be one image, a series of sonnets, or a twenty-page narrative. We are looking for work that you are proud of. Share with us your creativity, original voice, and honesty. We can’t wait to see what you’ve got for us!

Look Closer/ Mira de cerca Fall 2014 book coverLook Closer/ Mira de cerca

Volume 15, Fall/Otoño 2014
Students enrolled in our After-School Tutoring Program collaborate to produce Look Closer/Mira de cerca, a bilingual chapbook of original writing published twice a year. The selected stories, poems, and essays reflect work produced at The Writing Table. Upon completing homework assignments, students visit The Writing Table and are engaged in contemplative writing exercises. With the support of Writing Table coordinators, students select their better pieces, then revise and edit their own work. Finally, these pieces are translated, published, printed, and bound in-house. Each time we release a new volume of Look Closer/Mira de cerca, our young authors celebrate by reading their pieces to fellow students, families, tutors, and teachers. All of our chapbooks are currently for sale in the Pirate Supply Store.

Book cover with popcorn carton exploding with starsExploring Words Summer Camp

Stars Explode Like Popcorn, Summer 2014
826 Valencia’s Exploring Words Summer Camp is a five-week program for third- through fifth-graders, many of whom have been working with us throughout the school year in our after-school tutoring program. This year our students explored creative writing and science through reading, writing, and hands-on activities that strengthen the STEM curriculum (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). Throughout the camp, students conduct science experiments, craft original stories, and write with the one-on-one support of tutors. At the end of the five weeks, students will have developed a portfolio of their work, and we publish a chapbook of their selected writing.

The Hot Sauce Planet book coverBuena Vista Horace Mann Annex

The Hot Sauce Planet, Fall 2014
In 2013, we brought our model of after-school writing table to Buena Vista Horace Mann, a bilingual K–8 school in San Francisco’s Mission District.  The Hot Sauce Planet is the third publication to come out of the program for English Language Learners in grades three, four, and five, and is a collection of short fiction, poetry, and personal narrative full of fancy and adventure. The students write on different weekly prompts, tackling topics such as perseverance, responsibility, strength, and bravery, and work with tutors to learn to stretch their imaginations, invent characters, and offer explanations for the world around them.  Now available at the Pirate Supply Store.

Front page of Everett Middle School newspaperThe Straight-up News

Volume 11, No. 1, Fall 2014
The Straight-up News is written by the students of Everett Middle School with the help of 826 Valencia’s volunteers. The school is currently in its eleventh year of hosting learning about investigative journalism, feature writing, comics, and engaging interviews. Previous issues have featured interviews with ghost hunter Jim Fassbinder, Pixar animator Gabriel Slumberger, the Giants’s Jason Ellison and Jose Vizcaino, as well as Q & A’s with comedians Eddie Griffin and George Lopez. Written in Everett Middle School’s Writers’ Room as the cornerstone project of our In-Schools Programming.

The Sun's Glare book coverIn-Schools Chapbooks

The Sun’s Glare, Fall 2014
A product of the Wilderness Arts and Literacy Collaborative at Downtown High School, an interdisciplinary environmental studies program that integrates science, art, literacy, history, and math through environmental themes. As part of their final project, students wrote speculative fiction stories with the support of tutors from 826 Valencia about the effects of climate change on wildlife. They also created three-dimensional triptych paintings to accompany their stories. The narratives portend a grim, not-so-distant future when rapid adaptation is needed if animals are to survive. Through these works of art, students share a vision of the ways nature impacts them, as well as how they, in turn, impact the world around them. Available for sale at the Pirate Supply Store.

Mission Magazine Issue 01 cover imageMission Magazine

Issue 01, Fall 2014
The foundational project of the Writers’ Room at Mission High, which just opened in the fall of 2014, Mission Magazine is produced in collaboration with the 9th grade Ethnic Studies class, and is dedicated to social justice issues and subjects the student authors are passionate about. On shelves now at the Pirate Supply Store. Read more about the satellite Writers’ Rooms that 826 staffs at three local Mission district schools.

The Valencia Bay-farer Issue 52 front pageThe Valencia Bay-farer

Issue 52, Winter 2015
Our in-house newspaper, the Valencia Bay-farer, is the product of a six-week evening workshop held once per season for journalists between the ages of eight and thirteen. The students are joined by volunteers who help them research, interview, write, fact-check, edit, and ultimately polish their articles. For this 52nd issue, topics covered ranged from serious to silly, with students reporting on everything from the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, to skateboards of the future (hoverboards, of course!). The paper is produced and printed in-house, and the publication is celebrated with a reading and release party where journalists read their pieces aloud to family and friends.

The Day My Boots Exploded cover imageWriting and Publishing Apprentices

The Day My Boots Exploded, Fall 2014
Writing and Publishing Apprentices brings together students aged 13–18 and writing professionals for a semester-long workshop designed to develop a creative writing project of the student’s choice. The workshop gives young writers an opportunity to learn a variety of skills from professional writers and editors and to get college writing-workshop style feedback from peers and from tutors. The group meets weekly to write, polish, and eventually publish their work. In this latest edition to hit the shelves of the Pirate Supply Store, boots explode on suburban sidewalks, a mysterious visitor appears on the other side of the fence, the Head Angel has a meeting with the Grim Reaper, two best friends say a raucous goodbye, and string is tied around a whisper. Read more about workshops at 826.

Cover of Slick MagazineSlick Magazine

Volume 4, Issue 2, Spring 2014
In this final issue of Slick, eighth graders from James Lick Middle School addressed important issues like school uniforms, honors classes, the importance of P.E., and the pressure to succeed in school, as well topics with wider social implications like killer whales in captivity, the life of a newspaper photographer, and the mystery of Amelia Earhart. Students in a peer resources class work with tutors—many of whom are professional journalists and writers—to produce a magazine that educates the community on healthy lifestyle choices. Purchase.

For four years, Slick Magazine was the cornerstone project of our Writers’ Room at James Lick Middle School. This magazine is published twice yearly, and features articles about the school community and healthy lifestyle choices relevant to middle school students. Many of the tutors for the magazine project are professional journalists or have worked for magazines, and the team of volunteers includes writers who have been published in Wired magazine, Salon.com, the BBC, and San Francisco Magazine.

Best American Nonrequired Reading 2013 book coverBest American Nonrequired Reading

Since 2002 Houghton-Mifflin has contracted 826 Valencia to compile the Best American Nonrequired Reading (BANR), an annual collection of fiction, essays, comics, and journalism geared for readers under age 25 (although read by just about anyone). Every week from August through December, a student committee meets to gather possible material from national periodicals and discuss it. The pieces the committee selects are published in an annual volume and sold in bookstores all over the country. Purchase.