The Make-A-Book Project and author-in-residence program school photographs. Pictured here are all four of the aerial-view school photos. Kids standing in the shape of a bicycle, worm, butterfly and cupcake.

Make-A-Book Project

An artist-in-residence program

Nominate your organization or elementary school to co-create and illustrate a children’s chapter book with Scott and friends. Together, we can make a book about any subject that inspires your community; for example, environmental issues, inspiration & motivation, social change, or any of the stories below. I’m not exaggerating when I say the make-a-book project is guaranteed to create memories to last a lifetime and inspire thousands. Interested in starting your own project? Contact us for more details. It is never too early to begin watching your ideas come to life.

What’s new?

  • 2021. Our last two book projects were canceled due to COVID-19. Our next opening in the school will be Fall 2021. Contact us if you are interested in nominating your school.
  • We’re working on a project that is a little different. Rather than working with one school, we’re working with a variety of organizations. So anyone can participate. If you would like your child to submit a drawing for Honeynester the Bee, please contact us for guidelines. Every participating kid gets a free book!

Ruby The Red Worm's Dirty Job. A story about composting and over-coming bullying in favor of the bigger picture. By Scott Stoll.

Kids shared Ruby the Red Worm —a story about composting and overcoming bullying — so often that we heard many stories of families and friends of friends who started kitchen composting.


As featured in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and Wisconsin Public Radio.

That was AWESOME! It is an experience that will last the kids a lifetime… This book project is what the STEM Academy is all about…. it is great having Scott as a part of this school. ~

I’m from Waukesha Saratoga Stem Academy. When I was in 2nd grade (I’m now in 8th) Scott Stoll came to our school and made a book of pure amazement. Ruby the Red Worm was awesome. My drawing wasn’t in the book, but I didn’t care. I never said thanks for coming to our school. So here it is — Thanks for coming to Randall in 2010. It was so much fun, you’ve given me so many ideas since then… Since meeting you I’ve wanted to learn more about species and how they help the world. I found out my passions, I wanted to be a marine biologist and a football player. ~ )

More testimonials.

About the make-a-book project

Having cycled around the world, I never thought I’d find an incredible adventure at home. But after sharing my story about living dreams with thousands of kids, I realized it was missing something — the step of action. So with the help of inspirational teachers, like Kate Krzysik, we created the Make-A-Book Project; and, I’ve been honored to work with many schools as the Author-In-Residence and together we create dreams and turn them into educational, inspirational and entertaining books.

One of my proudest achievements was working with the US Dept. of State as the Cultural Ambassador to Argentina to create the Spanish edition of Falling Uphill: The Secret of Life. It was a cultural exchange program that involved over a dozen schools and thousands of people, bringing the real world of inspiration into the classroom and creating dreams, memories and real-life experiences to last generations. We gave away over 2000 books, for many children it was the first book they owned. This project continues to expand to other schools and countries with books about living a life of passion.

Purpose & benefits of the make-a-book project:

I think of the book project as more like planting the seeds of dreams, not only in the participants but everyone who might read the books. In fact, I don’t think of myself as an author; I think of myself more like a farmer and my books are my tools. Here are a few highlights of what I feel we are really creating when we make a book.

  • Developing a love to read books: It is increasingly difficult to get kids to read anything; however, kids love to read and share their own book. This project will also teach by example that books are still the best way to truly let your imagination fly, and to feel a flavor of adventure that can’t be felt in any other form.
  • Participating in a real-world project: These books will be on bookshelves everywhere and create memories to last a lifetime!
  • Passion: Teaching kids that the end product (such as passing a test or winning an award or learning some magical formula) is not the solution to life, but that participating in life (including getting your hands dirty and making mistakes) is the solution, in other words: showing students how to find their inner passion, taking a step of action and building wholesome communities.
  • Dreaming dreams and turning them into tangible realities: not only the book itself but the ideas within the book, such as inspiring communities to ride bicycles, plant gardens or compost waste.
  • Creating miracles: Someone somewhere will be inspired by a student’s drawing and that person will think twice about their path through life and rather than do what they feel they have to do, will instead do what they love to do, perhaps becoming a Nobel Laureate or even a cupcake baker and touching the lives of millions more with the passion of a dream.
  • Promoting your values: This is the number one value for sponsors. This project and my story has been featured in hundreds of places, including The New York Times and The San Francisco Chronicle and more. This means the media is hungry for stories of hope and inspiration, and that we have the experience to promote a story that features your values and goals, such as: environmental issues, or whatever your passion may be.

Project overview:

Below is a very brief summary. For a more complete description of the creative process, read the step-by-step story about how the book is made. It explains everything below in much more detail.

  • Slideshow: As a fun introduction, Scott will present his inspirational slideshow about his journey around the world on a bicycle and how it taught him the value of community and that the key to happiness is on the inside.
  • Author-in-residence: Scott will attend 1-2 weeks of classes, as an artist-in-residence, to help guide and inspire the students’ drawings. Ideally, Scott would also be in class for another week to help co-create the story about a subject relevant to your school and community, including: theme, characters, plot and more.
  • Artistic school photograph: We can organize an artistic school photograph similar to the ones above. A 12×18″ framed photo is hanging in the school offices. Read about the making of the school photos.
  • Collateral school projects: As the book is being created, it is highly recommended that teachers organize complimentary classroom activities; for example, the STEM Academy started vermicomposting lunchroom scraps to complement the red worm book.
  • Acknowledgments and honors: Perhaps the most important step is the school book signing celebration where every student signs their drawing in the book for friends and family. This is amazing!
  • Promotion: This is also a project that the local media loves and it would create a great opportunity to promote your school and your philosophy of learning as well as the issues in the book: for example, the book Ruby the Red Worm has inspired many people to begin composting. Examples: WPR and The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and dozens more throughout the Americas.
  • Fundraising: Potential social awareness and fundraiser opportunities for selling books to the community and helping to spread your message.
  • Seeing the dreams come true: One of the most fulfilling aspects of the project is watching the ideas within the book come true; for example, kids telling me years later about how they’re actually living, working or studying their dream. It’s amazing!
  • The sky’s the limit: The only limitation to the possibilities is finding passionate team members committed and capable of hurdling small buildings. Interested in participating?

What kind of books are they?

Inspirational, Educational and Entertaining

Every book in the Make-A-Book project has three main themes. First, they are meant to inspire students. Second, they educate students, so students can put their inspiration into action. And third, they are entertaining, which serves as a hook to get the students involved.

They are interactive books in many ways. The kids don’t just read the book — they get to make the book. And these books can be given to friends to sow the seeds of real change. For example, our book Mirabella the Monarch resulted in more real butterflies in our neighborhood. We can choose almost any theme for your book, but these days environmental themes are very important and very popular.

Make-a-book project interactive coloring books
One mother was kind enough to send me this photo: “My kids thought your book needed a little color”. I think this is a great surprise.

I initially designed the books in the simplest way possible for children to illustrate. Unlike fine art, illustration needs to tell a story. So I felt black marker drawings would give the kids the best control, and I know from years of being a graphic designer that colors often turn to mud by the time they reach the final printing. So, I’m pleased to see that black & white books turned out even better than I imagined, because, to use modern vernacular, they are more interactive.

The reason this is important is that by coloring the pages or playing the games, they are absorbing the lessons on more than one level. They are using different parts of their brain and improving their reading, writing and drawing skills. I’ve expanded this idea of coloring the book so that each generation of the book has become more interactive. Below is a page from Mirabella the Monarch with lots of fun challenges. The first challenge is “Color your favorite picture.”

Mirabella the Monarch Challenges, activities to encourage interacting with the book and educational material.
Mirabella the Monarch Challenges, activities to encourage interacting with the book and educational material, including a page to draw your own picture and another to create your own caption.

The Book Celebration

To celebrate the book we seat all the students in a big circle of tables ready to sign their page in the book. Then friends and family circle the table to get their book signed by each of the student illustrators or writers. In my opinion, the celebration of the book is the most important step. It helps the students realize their own accomplishments, develop a sense of gratitude, and refine their purpose in life. Giving the young authors and illustrators an audience also empowers them to seed their ideas and passion in their community and eventually, these ideas may become a new reality.

Make-A-Book Project Celebration Panorama Photo
This is the celebration for Mirabella the Monarch. The student illustrators were seated in a circle of tables so that family and friends could walk by and get their books signed. You can see the author, Scott, signing books on the right-hand side. In the back of the room, there is a table full of food and drink. When we celebrated the Cupcake Boy, the PTO did a matching bake sale, which paid for the price of the project.
Students from Argentina holding their certificates of achievements and their copy of "Cayendo Hacia Arriba," the book that we created together.
Students from Argentina holding their certificates of achievements and their copy of “Cayendo Hacia Arriba,” the book that we created together.

It makes a difference!

The project has inspired so many people that it’s hard to summarize, but as one example here are 100 books that were donated to our local community for Teacher Appreciation Day. If you browse our projects, you’ll see dozens of examples of how the project grew and gave back.

Teacher appreciation day gifts
Pictured here are 100 books signed by the author that were donated to our local community for Teacher Appreciation Day along with a coffee mug and a coupon for a free coffee.

Here’s one more below of how our project is about more than just the book. We gave a packet of seeds away with every Mirabella the Monarch book, so every family at the school could plant their own butterfly garden. We counted — there are actually more butterflies here now than before.

Male Monarch Butterfly and Milkweed
Male Monarch Butterfly and taking a sip of nectar from some Milkweed. Milkweed is also the only plant that monarch caterpillars can eat. Lots of students began their own butterfly gardens. We gave a pack of native flower seeds to every family. So, every family could plant their own butterfly garden.

How Scott introduces the project

Bicycle touring in the school gym and slideshow.

Before Scott begins working on a new book with the school kids, he likes to introduce himself with a slideshow about his trip around the world on a bicycle in search of happiness. He also brings lots of extras, like: a set of free books, bookmarks, reader-teacher guides, his bicycle, and more. Sometimes he even pitches his tent in the library for the kids to explore.

Seal of the United States Department of State
An example project

The making of the Spanish edition of
“Falling Uphill: The Secret of Life”

Update: My trip to Argentina as the Cultural Ambassador with the U.S. Department of State was a smashing success. It was another adventure of a lifetime! We created the Spanish edition of Falling Uphill: The Secret of Life. The U.S. Embassy gave away 2000 free copies of our book to the teachers and students of the 13 schools that participated. Most of these kids have never owned a book, much less had an opportunity to talk about their dreams. And, the project grew into Paraguay, and our story was featured in media outlets in every country in the Western Hemisphere! More project updates about the trip to Argentina >>>

Videos about the making of the book in Argentina

Scott in Argentina as the honorary Cultural Ambassador for the US Department of State

Some story ideas that might interest your school:

Here is a handful of my favorite ideas, but remember we can create any book that inspires your school and community. For example, the Parker Woods school mascot is a butterfly, thus Mirabella the Monarch was created. These days books about the environment are very popular.

  • Honeynester the Bee. A story about a lazy bee who learns to see the difference he makes pollinating flowers and making honey.
  • A Trashy Love Story. A story about the local landfill, recycling and composting. A community explores where their garbage comes from and where it goes and learns to love an unlikely thing.
  • Walter the Water Drop. Like Ruby the Red Worm’s Dirty Job, this story personifies an eco-friendly theme. Through the eyes of Walter, we explore the life cycle of water from a raindrop to a glass of water, and how to conserve this valuable resource. If you would like to bring this project to your school, I have a potential sponsor for this project, or a similar conservation idea like recycling, for school districts in Waukesha County.
  • 100 Lessons We Learned From Animals. After the first book, I learned that kids love animals and love to draw animals, thus this fun book with life lessons like, how to think like an elephant or forgive and forget like a goldfish. A book that will help kids learn to love their animal friends.

How do we start?

The cost of producing a book is high, and school budgets are low; nonetheless, I am so passionate about spreading stories of inspiration and education that I donated my first project to the school, which included funding and working full-time for 3 months. Why? You might ask. I love sowing seeds of ideas and opportunities in my community and watching them grow in marvelous ways. Practically speaking, with a few more books on my shelf, I hope to reach a critical mass and the project will become self-sustainable.

If you are a community leader and interested in championing this project at your school and turning more dreams into reality, please don’t hesitate to contact us to talk about how we can create the best project for your students. A great place to start is to download the Promotional Flier (PDF) and distribute this to your local school, parent-teacher association or non-profit organization, and test whether your group has the passion to make this dream a reality. If so, I can send you a complete project overview, including: costs, funding ideas, timeline and much more. And I can visit your group to give a slideshow about the project and answer any questions.

I guarantee this project will create memories to last a lifetime and inspire thousands.

Scott Stoll

Please support the project.

Buy a book now or make a donation. For the Mirabella the Monarch project we donated 559 books and it still wasn’t enough; it didn’t include teachers, parents, volunteers or community leaders. (Scott donated even more at his own expense.) More info about you can help pay-it-forward.

Step #3: Play it! Take a step of action to make your dreams real.

Take a step of action to help make dreams come true.

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