© 2024 Central Florida Public Media. All Rights Reserved.
90.7 FM Orlando • 89.5 FM Ocala
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

A Superhero Saves the World in An Orange County Public Schools Fifth Grader's First Book Written During the Pandemic

Photo: Sincerely Media
Photo: Sincerely Media

A fifth grader at Orange County Public Schools Caleb Ffrench used his pandemic time to write his first book “I Am Thunder” about a superhero who saves the world. 

WMFE’s Danielle Prieur spoke with Caleb, his dad Marlon and media specialist Carissa Dee about literacy during the pandemic.

Read the full interview below. 

Danielle: So Caleb, tell me a little bit about your book.

Caleb: I have always liked writing. And then my grandmother encouraged me to write a book. My book's name is, I Am Thunder, and it's about a superhero who saves the world. I like those types of books. And I also began having ideas during the pandemic. I was doing virtual school. And it wasn't exactly that hard for me. It was just unusual. It feels amazing and I feel proud of myself.

Danielle: Carissa, as a media specialist, were you surprised that Caleb wrote a book during the pandemic?

Carissa: Absolutely. I mean, a lot of students like this has just been really tough on a lot of kids to be out of their realm. And so I know a lot of them some of their creative juices kind of fizzled out like they didn't, you know, they were just focused on how their family was doing and and the weirdness of school and not school, and are we going to come back.

And so I think it's really exciting that Caleb just was able to tap into his creativity still and keep it going.

And, of course, all of us, you know, book nerds at school are super excited to know an author. And so like, when his teacher told me, I was like, it's on Amazon, and like, the reading coach goes, it's on Amazon, and we're like, we're buying copies. I was like, I need a copy for the library.

And I said, Caleb, are you gonna sign it for me? Because for a librarian, authors are rock stars.

Danielle: And Dad, what's the success been like for Caleb's book?

Marlon: It's been very positive. My wife told all our friends at church about it. I told my friends about it as well, everyone has pretty much gotten a copy. It's funny, because recently, just this past week, a friend of mine gave me the copy that they bought so that he could autograph it. And he sent letters out from his children who read the book, about how well they received the book as well. So the response has been very good.

Danielle: Caleb, I hear you're writing a second book.

Caleb: This one is going to have superhero characters. The second one that I'm making is going to be different.

Danielle: Carissa, are you seeing literacy rates drop during this pandemic?

Carissa: Well, it has been, it has been very difficult because one thing about our school is, is our library is like a beehive normally.

I mean, it is super busy. And Caleb can tell you like the mornings. I mean, there were students everywhere. I got to see every elementary class every week and the middle school students get to come in on their own. And middle school students chose to be in the library on their lunch break, to read. And so although we have the books here, and there is a process, they can check out books, and I just deliver them to all the classrooms. It's not the same as the teacher bringing the whole class every week, because then even the more reluctant readers were there and then they could like browse through and it was just an easier process to pick out their favorites than it is right now.

So I mean, I'm a little bit worried, but also a lot of technology has stepped in and given them a bigger selection to look at like our Orange County Library System has a virtual library card for free for all of the students. And those are e-books, which students are getting used to, you know, reading on their computers, but it's different.
Listen to the full conversation by clicking on the clip at the top of the page. 

Danielle Prieur covers education in Central Florida.