by Jet Burnham | [email protected]
At a gathering detailing his personal journey from fictional kid to world-renowned author, New York Times bestselling author Brandon Moll encouraged students to develop their imaginations and pursue creative outlets.
“I am a firm believer in imagination,” Maul told the students. He was shocked when his first series “Fablehaven” became famous all over the world. “It shows me that you never know how far your ideas might reach if you choose to participate.”
Mull has made thousands of gatherings—a few hundred each year for the past 16 years—with the goal of encouraging reluctant readers to get excited about reading. He loves to hear that he made a difference in the children’s lives.
“When I hear that books have helped get someone to read, that is the home way,” he said. “That one of the things I most wish to accomplish is to write a book that people read on purpose for fun. Another run I get is when an entire family says they read it together and bond with it.”
In November, Mull held meetings in Oquirrh Hills Middle and Southland Elementary where he encouraged students to exercise their imaginations regularly and gave advice to those interested in writing their own stories. When an OHMS student asked for advice in overcoming the writer’s hurdle, his advice was to add more problems to the plot. This tactic has worked for Mull – many of his books are about kids who get into trouble and have to find a way out of them.
OHMS School Librarian Paula Butterfield said Moll’s books are popular with students and faculty. More than 300 students requested to attend the gathering, which was optional. She said it was a special opportunity for Mull fans, especially those who signed their books and took selfies with the author.
“Brandon’s show was very good,” Butterfield said. “I especially loved that he talked with the students about how important it is to have a creative outlet, so that their imaginations don’t become stagnant. He also emphasized that reading can be a powerful tool used to stimulate their imagination.”
Seventh grade English teacher Melissa Stewart said OHMS teachers provide regular opportunities for students to express their creativity.
“Usually at the end of each quarter, we will have some kind of creative mentorship project that allows students to apply what we have learned in a new and interesting way,” she said. “This really helps solidify the concepts because the students express themselves and their personal understanding.”
Seventh graders learn different types of writing, including novels. They also study myths, legends, and fairy tales, which Mole tells students he borrows from to develop characters in his books.
Mole books are also popular with Southland Primary School students.
“Brandon’s books are among the most popular in the school library and in classroom libraries, and are used by teachers as read aloud,” said School Principal Garrett York.
Southland students are exposed to a variety of books, authors, and genres. Students participate in a book battle and a school-wide reading program.
“In addition to building their motivation to read, our new Walk-to-Read and other literacy initiatives help better prepare students to tackle even the toughest books,” York said. “By making reading less intimidating and helping students build the skills they need To become effective readers, they are less hesitant to choose a great book that they might be interested in but too afraid to pick up before.”
Mull encouraged the students during their meeting to use their imaginations to create new worlds and stories, which was an exciting idea for many of them.
“I love that the students seem to have acquired a new desire to build their own writing skills, which is something that is harder to motivate a student to do than to read,” York said after the gathering. “I’m excited to see the results.”