No matter how young the student, it's never too early to start pursuing your dreams. That was the message young local author Matt Gehring gave to fourth-graders during a recent visit to his former school, .
Matt, a sophomore at , recently published his first book, an interactive children's tale about not being afraid to try new things.
"It was really cool to go back and see all of my old teachers and to see what I was like when I was in elementary school," Matt said. "I told them about what I did to publish my book, and it was really exciting to see their reactions. I remember when I was in elementary school and there were author visits I was always really interested in what they were doing. So it was fun to go back and visit. I was really happy to do it."
During his summer vacation, a tale of a dog’s journey through a park, a farm, and everything in between. Each animal Max meets during his journey has something special about them, which is shared through poems during the story.
"I think the students learned that in today's world they really can do something like this," Matt said. "It's not impossible for a kid, it's not something that takes luck to get done. If you want to do it, you really can do it."
For students at Monmouth Junction, the chance to see a local student, who once walked the same halls as they do now, return to share how he published a book was inspiring.
"The kids all thought it was great. I got an email from a parent the next day who went to a PTO meeting and there was such great feedback about it," said fourth-grade teacher Stacey Katz. "I think it touched the students in a different way, because he was once a student at Monmouth Junction, who's still so young. He inspired them to see if they can do something like this. I had a parent ask me what web site Matt used to publish his book to see if her child could pursue the same avenue."
Katz added that the visit also helped to provide the students with a glimpse of what the future can hold for them if they apply themselves.
"We spend a lot of time in writer's workshops teaching the kids to generate ideas and to celebrate writing, so by bringing in a young author it shows the kids that what we're doing in school can help in the real world and that creativity can pay off in different ways," she said. "These students are now looking to see if they could publish their own books, so it really gave them the message to think beyond the classroom."
Matt said he plans to work on a sequel to "Little Max's Big Adventure" over the summer break, but hopes that his example will help to inspire the students to know that they're never to young to chase a dream.
"I want the kids to know that there is nothing holding them back, if they want to do this and are willing to put in the effort, they can do this," he said. "It was really fun and it's not something you should stress. Personally I loved doing it."
"Little Max's Big Adventure" is available on Amazon.com. Click here for more information.