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Published on January 14th, 2021 | by AberdeenMagazine

Just a Boy and His Moose

Local sixth grader’s book teaches kids about gratitude.

From Dog Man to The Last Kids on Earth, sixth grader Rylan Cooper has been collecting books from Scholastic fairs for his bedroom bookshelves his whole life. The avid reader learned in May his book about a cranky teen moose won the “2020 Write Across America” Books4Kids contest. The South Dakota-based program partners with PS Publishing for a free children’s book fair. Their contest, sponsored by the Remembering Sharon Jakober Foundation, gives kids the chance to have their own books published and given away at the fairs. Rylan’s book won out against almost 60 other submissions.

Being published as a sixth grader doesn’t happen on its own. Rylan was a finalist in the contest last year, and with a little extra persistence this year, he won the publishing contract and cash prize. Coleen Liebsch, founder, and CEO of Books4Kids, says Rylan’s book carries a message of overcoming jealousy and being grateful that is perfect for kids in kindergarten. Coleen says Rylan will get to work with a professional illustrator to pick exactly what his spunky characters will look like before the story gets printed this fall. Rylan’s original drawings and name for the moose may all change in the editing process, but the heart of the book is all Rylan and his favorite animal.

Rylan says he reads “to pass time, to get smarter, to learn about things or just to have fun reading about some character.” When Rylan graduated kindergarten, he asked his mom, Kathy, if it meant he could be the teacher, as if all he needed to know was already packed away in his brain. In the same way, he is ready to leave fifth grade at Trinity Lutheran behind and soak up all the knowledge that sixth grade has to offer. By then, it’ll be time to virtually visit other classrooms as a guest author at the Books4Kids fairs. // JENI FJELSTAD

Rylan’s Top 5 To Get Reading

Get those little ones excited about reading with some of Rylan’s favorites. The Coopers also recommend a creative writing game — making up stories in the car! Make up one sentence and pass the next off to the kids for unpredictable tales that spark imagination.

Rylan’s Top 5 Books:

  • “Dog Man” series by Dav Pilkey
  • “The Last Kids on Earth” series by Max Brallier
  • “Extreme Adventures” series by Justin D’Ath
  • National Geographic nonfiction books
  • “Mission Survival” series by Bear Grylls


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