Bryson Jamal Stevens loves to read.
Confirmed by his mother, Taticasejuana, 9-year-old Bryson and his 6-year-old brother, Princeton, have read more than 1,000 books within the last year.
“When the pandemic hit, it gave us a lot of time,” Mrs. Stevens said. “They’re competitive readers … I’m surprised we didn’t [watch more TV], but as a home school mom, I felt like I had to pick up the ball and really make sure we didn’t fall behind.”
In that same time, Bryson discovered he enjoyed writing, too, so much so that he decided to write his own book.
The Covington resident first put pen to paper on March 19, 2020, and finished his story July 16, 2020. The 83-page book, “Creating the Winning Team,” was officially published July 9, 2021.
“I did this by myself, but my mom is the illustrator,” Bryson said. “She wrote all of the pictures while I did all the writing.”
The fictional book is centered on 10-year-old basketball player Bryce King and his friends, who also endure a pandemic.
“The unimaginable happens!” part of a book preview states. “The boys always wanted more time to practice and play ball. They got their wish and some. The Earth literally stopped orbiting on its axis. Everything shut down — I do mean EVERYTHING! Team Net Rippers and Bull Gang face off at the 1st Annual 2020 Basketball All Stars Tournament at the King family's lake house. All the boys learn a valuable lesson about perseverance and tenacity it takes to win, even while facing adversity.”
Mrs. Stevens said her hope was that the book generates a renewed joy for reading among others, while also sharing a glimpse of Bryson’s big heart.
“One of the things we really want to do is get the joy of reading back out, not just for [Bryson’s] peers, but adults, too,” she said. “After reading it, I would say this is really open for all age levels. And without giving the end away … it really shows the heart of Bryson, who’s always assisting and helping others.
“We also want all of our local students and parents to get a copy, because not only will they get a great lesson from it, but it can also inspire them and say, ‘My classmate did this? That means I could do this too.’”
When he gets older, Bryson wants to be a police officer like his father, Alfred, because he “wants to be in action.” Mr. Stevens currently works in corrections for the City of Atlanta Police Department.
But Bryson also wants to continue writing and share his work with others.
“I want them to say, ‘I really love this book; I want to subscribe to his channel,’” Bryson said.
Mr. Stevens said he and the rest of their family was thrilled for Bryson’s achievements.
“When I was 8 or 9 years old, I wasn’t thinking about writing a book. I was thinking about playing,” Mr. Stevens said. “I think this a big accomplishment for him and we’re just so proud of him. It’s actually kind of amazing that he’s able to do this at such a young age.”
Mrs. Stevens said she enjoyed writing her own books when she was younger, so it was nice to see Bryson inherit her passion.
“I’ve always loved writing,” she said. “When I was younger I’d write books by taping pages together. I loved writing pictures. But none of my books ever got out into the world… For him to create a book and it go out into the world, we’re just immensely proud.”
The Stevenses shared that the pandemic has been a trying time for their family. Both Alfred and Taticasejuana battled COVID-19, and there were also a few deaths in the family.
“Even though the pandemic was really an awful thing … Bryson faced it and remained steadfast,” Mrs. Stevens said. “He was able to get his book written, and we’re just so proud of him.”
“Creating the Winning Team” is available for purchase only at Amazon.com, but the Stevenses are working to get Bryson’s book more widely available.
So what’s next for Bryson, as he will celebrate his 10th birthday in August? He’s brainstorming for book No. 2.