Children’s author brings laughs and lessons into district
January 31, 2008
Children’s book author Justin Matott made a visit to each elementary school through the Windsor-Severance Re-4 School District this week bringing with him laughs, jokes and lifelong lessons for every student.
Whether he was talking about “the man in the woods,” his narcoleptic cat, Flop, his love for sharpening pencils or his brother who looked like a “walking meat loaf with hair,” Matott created images in the students’ minds that were probably the talk at the family dinner table each night.
Matott, who was raised in Fort Collins, is the author of the award-winning book, “When I Was a Boy, I Dreamed,” and is this year’s nominee for the Colorado Children’s Book Award for “When I Was a Girl, I Dreamed.”
The Windsor Council of the International Reading Association brought the author into the district so he could share his love and enthusiasm for reading and writing.
Matott was at Mountain View Elementary School on Wednesday where he shared how he became a writer and the important message of bullying.
After first grade, Matott was so advanced he was able to skip grades second and third. But, it was fourth grade where he started having bully problems with his brother and another boy from his class.
Matott told the students how he overcame the bullying by scaring his brother with stories and standing up to his enemy on the playground. The boy who once was his bully is now one of Matott’s friends.
“There is something about the bullying issue that is making a big impact at home,” Matott said. “You can talk bullying until you are blue in the face, but some kids just don’t get it. But, when it’s in a first-person narrative they realize, ‘Wait a minute this is what bullying is.’ It makes a big impact, and I’ve had bullies actually send me letters. If you can change a little corner of your world, who knows what you might accomplish in the future.”
Students left the school assembly wanting to read more of Matott’s books, but more importantly with the lesson of how bullying can impact a person.
“I thought he was a very imaginative person and he brought the stories to life,” said Mountain View fifth-grader Kanani Naipo. “I learned that you really shouldn’t be bullying other people. He’s been through it, and it’s not very nice.”
Kanani and her classmate, Ty Lobato, have read Matott’s books and said the words and pictures are what makes the story.
“He’s very funny and creative,” Ty, 11, said. “I will read more of his books.”
After his speech, Matott visited with all the fifth-graders and gave them advice on becoming a better writer.
“I want kids to realize that you can absolutely love to write,” Matott said.
Matott started traveling to schools throughout the world in 1998. He has been to more than 400 school discussing his books and sharing his stories. He enjoys coming to school and sharing content from the old and new books to see the students’ reactions.
He hopes to continue writing for children, and has his third poetry book “Nitwittles” due out in September.
Breakout: For more
For more on author Justin Matott and his books, visit http://www.justinmatott.com.