By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support local journalism.
Author visits Covenant Academy students
Emma Coppinger 5th.jpg
“T is for Titanic” was written by Shoulders at the request from the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge. Fifth-grader Emma Coppinger discusses the book, which relays historic facts, and encourages the reader to search for common and proper nouns. - photo by Margaret Hobbs
1 Austie Gannon and shoulders.jpg
Covenant kindergarten student Austie Gannon is chosen by author Michael Shoulders to wear an Indian headdress made by Shoulders to go with his book “D is for Drum.” The book discuses some element of Native American culture for each letter of the alphabet. - photo by Margaret Hobbs

Author Michael Shoulders shared some of his writing and publishing skills to Covenant Academy students Wednesday, spreading his message that “Reading Is Magic.” To date he has published 23 books, most of them for children, and is expecting to release another in the near future. 

The retired teacher exhibited bits of humor and included the students in his presentation, prompting them for fun participation. One interesting fact is most picture books are 32 pages to accommodate the printing process. 

“Today I visit schools across the United States and Europe, providing in-service training to teachers on literacy issues and discipline, and I write,” said Shoulders.  

He explained the various steps to writing and publishing a book, saying extensive research on the topic is the first step. 

“I spend lots of time doing research, many times alone in a library with headphones on,” said Shoulders. “Ideas for books come from everywhere, and I’m inspired by numerous topics.”

The next phase includes a rough draft that’s submitted as proof the book is in progress. He explained how editors pour over the drafts, making corrections, changes and suggestions along the way. 

Perhaps one of the most interesting parts of the process is the work of the illustrators, the person who supplies artwork for each page. He showed many examples of illustration submissions, and the final artwork used in his book. 

Covenant’s entire student body took part in the visit, with each benefiting in different ways. Tenth-grade student Ethan Hillis said, “I thought it was interesting how he introduced the picture book with a rap song. That was a fun-spirited way to teach children the alphabet with fun facts. Also the way he explained his research behind his Civil War novel made me want to read it.”

Some of Shoulders’ books include: “D is for Dump Truck,” “Crossing the Deadline (Stephen’s Journey Through the Civil War,”    “T is for Titanic,” “Say Daddy,”  “Little Tennessee,” “D is for Drum” and “Goodnight Baby Bear.” More can be viewed at  

Fifth-grader Anslee McCrary said, “It was a lot of fun, and I learned how authors get their ideas, and he was very cool and awesome and he can rap!”