While volunteering in a fourth grade reading class in the United States, Judy Gelles found many of the students couldn’t relate to the stories they were assigned to study. To help get the children more interested in reading, Gelles had the idea to ask each of the 9 and 10 year old students to tell her their own stories. Gelles took it upon herself to write down all of their individual stories before reading them back to the children.
Gelles was intrigued almost instantly by the touching, and often sorrowful stories the children would candidly explain. Already an established photographer, Gelles was driven to share the poignant memoirs of modern childhood the most impactful way that she could. Thus, Fourth Grade was born. A five year long photography project that would take Gelles to classrooms across the US, India, China, Korea, and England, meeting with fourth graders and asking them all the same three questions: