NOKESVILLE, Va. (DC News Now) — We all know teachers love it when their students go above and beyond on assignments, but not often have we seen two middle schoolers turn a common classroom lesson into a year-long project and new friendship.
Not many seventh-graders, or even adults, have done what The Nokesville School students Bailey Dove and Sophia Bonilla have done. Inspired by a lesson on islands, they turned a social studies lesson into a published book. Now, they’re inspiring the next generation of middle schoolers to do the same.
“There are a lot of blood, sweat, and tears put into this,” Dove said about the year-long process of writing, illustrating, and publishing the book Is-Land. “It takes a lot of people to take that original first copy to where it is now.
“We actually became friends when we started this book together,” Bonilla said.
The two started working on Is-Land after a social studies lesson on islands, which prompted Bailey’s simple — yet complex — question: what is with the ‘S’ in islands?
According to the fictitious book, Clay the Pirate went on an adventure to answer that question. Bailey wrote his story, Bonilla turned the words into pictures with her illustrations, and after months of back-and-forths with publishers, a book was born.
“I was thrilled, I thought this was so good to really encourage them,” said Mallory Dove. She teaches the gifted program at The Nokesville School and is Bailey’s mother. “For them to come up with their own idea and then put it into making a book? I think that’s really something that other kinds can strive for, too.”
The 12- and 13-year-old authors are now sort-of local celebrities. They spoke on Zoom to students at Haymarket Elementary School and shared what they learned, with the hopes that those kids will follow in their footsteps.
“I would actually be proud of them [if they wrote their own stories] because it shows they kind of got inspired,” Bonilla said.
“I thought… only other adults can publish books,” Bailey Dove said. “And I want them to know that they can publish a book too.”