Author John Coy, a Minnesota author who currently lives in Minneapolis, spent some time in Sleepy Eye talking about his books and encouraging students of all ages to continue to read.
John has written several picture books and young adult novels. He is also the author of the popular 4 for 4 middle-grade series, featuring “Top of the Order,” “Eyes on the Goal,” “Love of the Game” and “Take Your Best Shot.”
Thursday evening John presented to a small group at the Dyckman Free Library.
“Because I’m a dad, I’ve read a lot of books. Some were good, some were not,” John said.
It was when he was reading picture books to his children that he got the idea to write his own picture book.
His first book, “Night Driving,” is based loosely on his memories he had of traveling with his own father and the special bond their shared on long trips.
John said writing the story took him about a year.
He said after many rejection letters, the good news that the book would be published came by telephone. From the time John started the book until it was published, it took a total of six years. The book came out in 1996.
“The book will be 17 years old this year, so it’s old enough to drive,” John joked.
The book “Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball,” was written about how the game of basketball came to be.
“The story was around when I was a kid,” John said. “But kids now don’t know it.”
John said in the years since he has been writing books, he has noticed that a huge number of boys are checking out of reading books.
“I think there is a lot of reading going on right now, more than we realize,” John said in reference to reading taking place online and on phones. To continue to interest boys in reading, John created the popular 4 for 4 middle grade series books about four friends making the transition from elementary school to middle school.
John takes time to visit schools nationally and internationally to talk about his books, help students with writing and encouraging reading.
Sleepy Eye Public School has invited authors in to speak about their books for the past three years and Sarah Lendt, who coordinates to bring authors to the school, said she has seen a change in kids after hearing an author speak about the books they’ve written. She added that kids start writing and drawing with renewed vigor after a presentation.
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John presented to classes kindergarten through sixth grade on Friday, Feb. 8. He encouraged skills that students need to use throughout many of their classes.
“When writing stories,” he said, “don’t do three things; say you can’t think of what to write–just let your mind and writing be open, write whatever you are thinking and that lets more writing and thoughts free, ask your teacher how to spell because your writing doesn’t need to be perfect, and don’t erase, it takes too much time away from your creative thinking and writing.”
He encouraged students to remember sometimes you have to do things many times until its right, and to never give up.
John’s books are available at both the Sleepy Eye public library and the SEPS elementary library.