Until recently, St. John’s University student Zachary Levy never thought of himself as an author.
“I have always been a science and math guy,” said Zachary, who expects to graduate in 2022 with a Master of Science degree in Physician Assistant, from the University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (CPHS). “That being said, I have always enjoyed inspiring others, being creative, and thinking outside of the box.”
Those qualities, and his passion for medicine, have helped to propel Zachary into the limelight as a coauthor of a children’s book series that aims to introduce science and the human body to elementary school-aged students and to foster excitement for potential careers in the medical sphere.
The Rory’s Adventure Books series was launched several months ago with Rory’s Adventure through the Cardiovascular System, which was followed by Rory’s Adventure through the Respiratory System. In a few months, Zachary, along with coauthors Melody Young and Jacob Salner, who both attend the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine, will release the third installment, Rory’s Adventure through the Musculoskeletal System.
Rory is a jovial red blood cell that goes along on various adventures with the young readers. Zachary developed the original concept to write a children’s book revolving around medicine. As soon as he shared his idea with Jacob, Zachary’s former college roommate, the latter was on board, and Melody soon followed.
“We thought it was a great idea to share our love for medicine with children,” Zachary explained. “Our goal was to write in a creative, fun, and interactive way, with the hope of inspiring bright young minds of the future.”
The authors also believe they fill a gap.
“We want to gear our books toward children because we feel that there isn’t anything out there that inspires children in a friendly and attractive way toward the medical field,” said Zachary. “We want to get our books into the hands of as many children around the world as possible to inspire them to consider the sciences—while putting a smile on their faces.”
The trio spent five months completing their first book and learned how to collaborate during the pandemic.
“Together, we had Zoom calls putting words and concepts in a Microsoft Word document. After a while, ideas came to life in the form of illustrations,” Zachary said. “Since we self-published our work, there was a big learning curve when it came to software, obtaining a copyright, and tackling other nonwriting, but related, tasks.”
The authors share their books by offering virtual story readings on Zoom to elementary schools. They also include goodie bags for each participating student that contain copies of the books and an anatomy puzzle. The books are also available on the authors’ Instagram account, @RorysAdventureBooks.
So far, the Rory’s Adventure series is receiving positive feedback from the students, teachers, and parents, according to Corinne I. Alois, PA-C ’96P, Assistant Professor, CPHS, who works with Zachary in the many volunteer roles he assumes.
“These are great books for young learners to discover the basic concepts about the cardiovascular and respiratory systems,” she said. “Children love the colorful illustrations that accompany the text.”
For Zachary, the live readings to the elementary school classes are his favorite part of his own adventure as a children’s book author.
“We are more than happy to set up live Zoom sessions with any class around the country that wants to read the Rory’s Adventure series,” he said. “In addition to the live reads, we answer the students’ questions. This is my highlight because I get to see in real-time the effect this book has on kids.”
“The smiles and responses to the book that we get directly from the students are truly heartwarming and put the biggest smile on our faces.”