Brian Wray didn’t know that, as an imaginative fourth-grader in the 1980s, he would return to his elementary school one day decades later to share one of his own creations. But one recent morning, he found himself doing just that.
The Mt. Washington School alum visited his elementary school to read his first children’s book, Unraveling Rose, to students in grades PreK-3.
Wray credits his love of writing to his fourth-grade English teacher at Mt. Washington School. Every week, he and his classmates would learn new vocabulary words and had to complete a writing assignment by the end of the week using the new words. Most kids wrote about what happened to them that week, but Wray, inspired in part by Star Wars, his favorite movie at the time, wrote a short science fiction story.
“My teacher allowed and encouraged this creativity in me,” said Wray. “So, every week after that, I was excused from the regular assignment as long as I continued to develop the story — of course, using the new vocabulary words the class had learned that week.”
Wray went on to graduate from Walnut Hills High School and earned a degree in film from Penn State University. He began writing professionally in 2003 after moving to Brooklyn, New York, taking on projects with Walt Disney Studios and more. Most recently, Wray wrote for a variety of crime-based television series.
Wray shared his background with the students before reading Unraveling Rose. The story follows Rose, a stuffed bunny who finds a loose thread and starts to obsessively worry about it, distracting her from enjoying other things. After reading the book, Wray asked students about some of the things they worry about, like school, homework, family or friends.
“I worried a lot when I was a kid, too,” Wray told the students. “I wanted to write this book about what my experience was. Things don’t always have to be perfect or right, and we don’t need to worry about them. I hope the lesson of Rose overcoming her worries is helpful to you for when you worry.”
Students could ask Wray additional questions about the book and even come up and touch a handmade, stuffed animal version of Rose.
Keep up with the exciting things happening at Mt. Washington, a Vision 2020: Expeditionary Learning school, at mtwashington.cps-k12.org.