Creating magic

Michigan author talks to students as Reading Month kickoff

MANISTEE — Johnathan Rand has always felt that there is something magical about books.

And on Tuesday, he shared an ancient secret about reading with students at Kennedy Elementary School.

Johnathan Rand is the author of 40 books in the American Chillers book series and 17 Michigan Chillers. The mystery books are geared toward children. Rand talked to third to sixth grade students at Kennedy Elementary on Tuesday.  (Michelle Graves/News Advocate)

Johnathan Rand is the author of 40 books in the American Chillers book series and 17 Michigan Chillers. The mystery books are geared toward children. Rand talked to third to sixth grade students at Kennedy Elementary on Tuesday. (Michelle Graves/News Advocate)

“Reading is not something that you do, reading is a place that you go,” he said.

Rand spoke during an assembly of third through sixth graders from Kennedy and Jefferson elementary schools.

Kennedy Elementary parapro and librarian Karen Sundbeck arranged the appearance in January.

The author has written 40 books in his American Chillers series and 17 in his Michigan Chillers series, which are geared toward children.

“I saw a lot of kids checking out his books, so I went online to see if he does presentations,” she said.

Rand’s Michigan Chillers series features different towns in the state, such as “Mayhem on Mackinac Island” (his first in the series) and “Terror Stalks Traverse City.”

“Since he’s a children’s mystery writer, all the students wrote inspiring scary Manistee stories, hoping by giving him a book, it might inspire him to write about Manistee or Kennedy,” said Sundbeck.

As an added bonus, a drawing was held for all of the students who wrote a story for Rand and 10 children were selected to attend a special “VIP meet and greet” after the assembly.

The event also served as a kickoff to Reading Month, which takes place throughout March.

During the assembly, Rand told all of the students about his first job in college, which was working at a radio station.

He said he got the job not because he had experience working at a radio station or with the equipment, but because he could read and write.

His job was to write radio commercials, and read and record them to be aired on the radio.

“I made my radio commercials like stories,” he said. “I used my reading and writing skills to tell stories. … I made a radio commercial once about a space alien that accidentally crashed his spaceship into the earth and then he went down to the local automotive store get it fixed.”

Another point that Rand emphasized to the students is “books don’t have covers, they have doors.”

He told the students that he’s been all over the world and just that morning, he’d been in West Africa.

The author from Indian River said that all he did, was “open the door.”

“When you begin to realize that books don’t have covers, they have doors,” he said, “then all of a sudden you begin to realize that you can go anywhere you want in the world where you are at this very moment.”

Rand said that for most of January, he traveled around Siberia. And, he said the best part is that this method of traveling is inexpensive.

His trip to West Africa only cost him $9.99.

“Pretty cheap for a month-long vacation,” Rand said. “And you guys can walk into your school library and take a book off the shelf, have the same kind of adventure and it doesn’t cost you anything.”

Students at Kennedy Elementary School wrote scary stories about Manistee and their school in hopes that they would inspire Michigan Chillers author Johnathan Rand to write about their town or school. Ten students were selected for a special "VIP meet and greet" with Rand after an assembly for all the students on Tuesday.  (Michelle Graves/News Advocate)

Students at Kennedy Elementary School wrote scary stories about Manistee and their school in hopes that they would inspire Michigan Chillers author Johnathan Rand to write about their town or school. Ten students were selected for a special “VIP meet and greet” with Rand after an assembly for all the students on Tuesday. (Michelle Graves/News Advocate)

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Posted by Michelle Graves

Michelle is the managing editor of the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3106 or mgraves@pioneergroup.com.

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