High School Educational Support Teacher April Leavenworth recently published her own book! The Wishing Journal is about a sixth grade girl named Milla, a prolific journal writer who is dealing with a bully at school. Milla tries to escape her bully, but through the help of a magical journal she is able to better empathize with her bully and ultimately befriend him.
“I’ve always been a writer,” explained Leavenworth, whose undergraduate degree is in Writing and Literature. She has published a number of nonfiction essays and some poetry, but an entire book is something new. The idea around The Wishing Journal kept coming back to her, and during one February break, Leavenworth decided to go for it. She spent “eight or nine hours a day every day of that break and just wrote the entire thing.”
She finished the book in 2017, but went through an extensive editing process with good feedback from publishers. She made a number of revisions over the years and held back publishing until she was satisfied with the final result.
“I wrote it because something was inspiring me and I wanted kids to read it,” she explains, “so I decided to publish it.”
The story is inspired a bit from Leavenworth’s own experience in the classroom at a previous school. The main character, Mlila, is an amalgamation of a few students in particular. The story also takes place in her hometown, so that backdrop of the story has many of the landmarks and other features that she grew up with.
And while the book is inspired in part by her experience in middle school classrooms, Leavenworth noted that writing the book has allowed her to reflect on what she brings to the High School every day in her role as the school’s Educational Support teacher. “When I was writing it, I was in the process of making this transition to educational therapy, and one of the main tenets of education therapy is having unconditional positive regard for your students,” she explains. “Writing the book and having the message that, you know, for the bully in the book there’s always something deeper that’s happening for your students. Or even for Milla, the great student and soccer star, she’s hurting inside. So it’s really about paying close attention to this, to the kids that are right in front of you, and I think I definitely bring that to the High School.”
Milla is an animal-enthusiast and rescues a number of animals throughout the story: a portion of the proceeds from all book sales will be donated to the Animal Refuge League. You can buy The Wishing Journal here.