One student’s comment exemplifies this point, “I think students should be able to choose what they want to learn because it gives them a little head start on their future.” “The kids get so excited and bring that back to the room and share it, therefore creating more excitement and inter-est. It’s contagious!” a second-grade teacher reported.KristinKristin was in sixth grade when she signed up for the Young Author's Guild because she wanted to join a group of students who had a passion for writing. During the year she worked with the group to complete a collection of poetry that was designed into a book and dis-tributed to community businesses. Her Enrichment Cluster experience carried over to seventh grade as Kristin was able to work on her own project during an Explorations class. Kristin’s teacher applied the philosophy of Enrichment Clusters to the class by allowing stu-dents to have a voice in their learning. After researching different animals, she created her own children's book about animals that she has shared with ele-mentary students. In eighth grade, Kristin’s teacher connected her with a mentor at the local county newspaper. Kristin began writing articles for the newspaper and by the end of the year, her mentor wanted her to be in charge of the entire student page for the newspaper. These experiences were made possible because the enrichment cluster practice that students with an interest can produce a creative product for a real audience. Kristin's goal is to become a journalist. Because of the opportunities afforded her, she will have gained a solid foundation through writ-ing experiences that will be valuable in her future career.How educators view, value, and utilize students’ interests will determine stu-dent engagement. How they view their responsibility as facilitators of learning will establish the level of talent their students develop. How and what expec-tations they set for students will have an extraordinary influence on who these young people become, how they solve problems, and what kind of contribu-tions they choose to make in our soci-ety. The transformation that is brought about by the “Cluster Effect” can benefit continued on page THP-11In our inaugural column, we began our discussion on using picture books with second-ary students. Our focus today is on the use of “textless” books. Remember that there are basically three uses of illustrations in children’s literature. First, the illustra-tions simply decorate – illustrations break up the continuous text. This is what we find in children’s novels. The second purpose is that the illustrations amplify the text – text and illustration together tell the story. The third and perhaps most sophisticated use of illustrations is when the illustrations themselves are a significant and integral part of the story. In order to get the full impact or understanding of the plot, we must go to the illustrations. This third use taken to its most dramatic conclusion is what we find in textless books. The illustrations tell the story and there is no narrative.