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When a group of Virginia college students decided to take French class, they probably didn’t imagine they’d become children’s book authors–but they devoted their hearts to the task once they knew who the books were for.

To better hone their French skills, students at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland were asked to do some creative writing and come up with illustrations for children’s books.

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“To be able to use the language skills I learned in order to help children improve their literacy was a great motivation for me to do my best,” student author Tracie Mooneyham wrote in her college newsletter.

Professor Jennifer Shotwell’s students wrote and illustrated a total of 90 stories for the project, which she calls “Little French Books.”

The books were sent to underprivileged children in Haiti whose families and school libraries couldn’t afford them.

Now, these literature-loving children can read about dinosaurs, turtle adventures and princesses who dream of being knights.mailbox-recycling.jpg

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“I am thrilled at the reception to my book, and I hope its themes and lessons resonate with the children who read it,” says Teal Reynolds, author and illustrator of La Princesse Isabella. “Princesse Isabella wants to become a knight in her father’s kingdom, but she is forbidden because of her gender. Even though she faces adversity along the way, she learns self-reliance, grit, and what it will take to achieve her dreams.”

Shotwell sent student-made books to Haiti for the first time last year, but the books—made with paper covers and without laminated pages—have the potential to deteriorate quickly while being handled by eager readers.

This year, Shotwell hoped to be able to send more durable books overseas, so she started a Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $2,200 towards printing the books in hardcover.

The result? One of a kind, hardbound treasures now in the hands of 600 Haitian kids.

That’s one labor of love with a storybook ending.

(WATCH a video below) – Photos courtesy of Jennifer Shotwell

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