Distinguished children’s book author Bruce Coville roamed his old stomping grounds Thursday, sharing his passion for writing with students in the Phoenix Central School District.
Coville, an author of more than 100 books geared toward children and young adults, grew up and attended school in Phoenix. He said his passion for writing was ignited during a class assignment when he was in sixth grade.
“From the time I was young, I had a dream of becoming a writer,” Coville said on his website. “Now that dream has come true, and I am able to make my living doing something that I really love.”
With more than 16 million books sold, Coville shared his story with Michael A. Maroun Elementary School students, hoping to inspire them to chase their dreams. Taking a marker to a giant notepad, Coville drew an oval with a horizontal line through it to indicate the subconscious portion and the “waking” part of the human brain. As first- and second-graders looked on, the author wrote the word “dream” in giant letters within the larger subconscious part, telling the students that dreaming is the foundation for a great storyteller.
“How many of you have dreams at night? If you’ve ever had a dream, only even once, you’re a storyteller,” Coville said.
The high-energy author engaged students during three assemblies, discussing his published work, the process it takes to craft a book and the importance of never giving up. Coville talked about the trials and tribulations of getting his work published for the first time, as he told students how his book “The Foolish Giant” was initially rejected.
“It hurts your feelings, but you can’t let that stop you,” Coville said. “It hurt our feelings, but we didn’t stop.”
Further illustrating his point, Coville cited the difficulties that popular children’s book author Dr. Seuss encountered when publishing “Mulberry Street.” That book was rejected 27 times before finally being accepted.
“Would you give up? Dr. Seuss didn’t,” Coville said.
Thursday’s visit to Phoenix was months in the making, with plans first introduced during a Character Education Committee meeting last spring. The group, comprised of parent representatives of students in kindergarten through fourth grades, came up with the idea to bring Coville to the district.
“I found his email address, sent him an email inquiry, and before I knew it he contacted me,” said school counselor Nora Germain, a member of the committee.
The character education initiative has brought many worthwhile programs into the district, according to Principal Mary Stanton.
“We wanted to do something very special for our boys and girls at Maroun Elementary, and bringing Bruce Coville here is very special,” Stanton said.
Thursday’s event capped off a literacy initiative that saw students throughout the district reading various Coville titles. Third-grade teacher Mary Delpha said her students have been reading an array of Coville’s books leading up to his visit.
“His books have been featured in several of the classrooms,” Delpha said, noting that the library has many of Coville’s titles available for students. “He really writes to all levels. His different series are great for our students; it helps jumpstart kids to independent reading.”
For second-grader Caitlin Dean, the author visit was not only entertaining, but a valuable learning experience as well. “He was funny, I felt good about him,” she said. “I liked the way he talked.”
Dean’s classmate Savannah Felix said the experience was unique because her grandparents had attended school with Coville and she had already heard so many stories about him. “It was really cool,” she said.