There is little doubt this past year has been difficult for kids, of any age, to find academic success. In fact, a recent report by Horace Mann states that 97% of educators said their students experienced some degree of learning loss of the past year.

That is why BGCC’s Summer Brain Gain: READ program is even more important than years past. This program gives Club members access to a variety of books, coaches to help them through reading struggles and opportunities to get them excited about reading.

Some of the most fun events for BGCC’s kids are virtual author reads. The latest author read featured sports journalist and children’s book author John Butler (pen name, Cousin John), who read his book, “Chase Learns to Share.”

After the reading, the Club members were eager to ask him several questions. One by one, they asked thoughtful questions, like how long it takes him to write a book (1 year), how he comes up with his stories (the main goal is for them all to have a lesson within), and why he became an author.

The last question sparked an inspirational story where, while looking for a book to buy his nephew, he could not find one that featured African American characters. That sparked his inspiration to write his own story, with characters that all children could relate to and see themselves on the pages. He has now written three books within the “Chase” series.

What the kids really enjoyed during their time with Cousin John, though, was writing their own stories. Cousin John gave the kids tips on how to get started and almost immediately, the kids were off writing their own books about sharing. If any kids had questions, they would walk up to the screen and ask.

Some may have hit a few seconds of writer's block, but after no more than 15 minutes, stories of sharing materialized: sharing on an airplane, sharing toys with their mom, sharing birthday gifts. The kids got creative, personalizing their own stories. Some wrote in Spanish, some had elaborate illustrations and some based characters on real experiences.

“I am so impressed,” Cousin John said. “I can't wait to read how the stories finish.”

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