Children’s book author and illustrator John Rocco visited King’s Lower School on Wednesday, April 12, to discuss his books, his inspiration, and his process. Each of Rocco’s books offered a range of discussion topics applicable to all grade levels. By the end of his visit, he had inspired students to see themselves as authors, illustrators, and researchers.
“He told me how he wrote books, like where he got his ideas,” said William Liang ’34. “I like how he found old comic books in the basement, and that inspired him to become an author.”
Library Media Specialist Leigh Roberts selected Rocco as this year’s guest author.
“John Rocco’s books connected to a variety of curriculum topics across grade levels. They provided students another opportunity to connect and dig deeper to various themes and units explored in the classroom,” said Roberts.
Rocco’s work is infused with the same virtues that King students practice, including integrity, kindness, perseverance, and respect. Through stories from his own childhood, as well as his deeply researched award winning nonfiction book about the United States’ first moon landing, Rocco’s books inspire readers to be innovators who lead with courage, confidence, and kindness.
Grade 1 students debated about which of his books was better.
“My favorite book was ‘Blizzard,’” said William. “I really liked when he brought food to people who couldn't get out because of the blizzard because that was kind.”
“I like ‘Hurricane' because he learned that to fix his own dock, he should help other people first,” said Arya Mehrotra ’34.
In preparation for the visit, each grade researched John Rocco during Library & Technology Literacy class, explored his books, and worked on a project related to Rocco’s work. Prekindergarten students decorated and presented Rocco with a superhero cape, Kindergarten designed maps, Grade 1 designed and built docks, Grade 2 created virtue cards, Grade 3 created cinquain poems, Grade 4 created giant word clouds on the library windows, and Grade 5 was invited to design digital comic strips. The students also utilized homeroom and Spanish classes, among others, to create additional projects related to Rocco’s work.
His visit exceeded expectations, according to Roberts.
“John was relatable, generous, informative, fun, and inspiring,” she said. “He ate lunch with 12 students from the 4th and 5th grades and not only shared information about himself, but he posed questions to the students and showed an authentic interest in their stories. John was a wonderfully dynamic, enthusiastic presenter with the impressive ability to connect to a wide range of developmental stages.”
This is the second in-person author visit that Roberts has facilitated, and she looks forward to bringing more inspiring, talented authors and illustrators to campus.
Rocco’s next project is a collaborative one with his wife, Hayley Rocco. The couple is working on a nonfiction series about endangered animals, and Roberts hopes to bring them back in a few years once their work is published.
“Providing an opportunity for our students to learn about endangered animals around the globe will help support both our global education and conservation initiatives in the Lower School,” says Roberts. “I’m confident John and Hayley Rocco will be a dynamic duo at King. We will just need to design one more cape for Hayley.”