Winston Academy Fifth-Grader Publishes Book About Growing Up During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Winston Academy Fifth-Grader Publishes Book About Growing Up During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Photo of Maliyah

Baking? Board games?

Winston Academy of Engineering fifth-grader Maliyah Rue had something else in mind when it came to filling her coronavirus lockdown days: She wrote a book.

“Biscuit … The Little Girl Growing Up in 2020,” chronicles Rue’s spring break and summer vacation amid the coronavirus pandemic. It is available electronically through Amazon.

“It’s about my 2020,” said Rue, 10, whose nickname is Biscuit. “The world is a very different place than I expected when I was little. Writing this book helped me to process my feelings. I hope it inspires my readers.”

Rue began writing her book in June, when so many of her typical summer pastimes became inaccessible. Instead of going to friend’s house or the beach, she turned to her computer keyboard to document the historical event and emotions she was experiencing.

Readers of all ages will recognize their own feelings of isolation in Rue’s words, such as those found in Chapter 4:

“So many things were changing right before my eyes. We went from going to church in person to church being held online. Many stores were forced to close, and restaurants were ‘carry out’ only … My dad had planned a two-week road trip, but that was canceled due to ‘The Rona.’ … This virus was canceling everything.”

To replace the connections she once had in person, Rue turned to social media, she writes in Chapter 3:

“Social media was already trending with different apps, but once COVID hit, TikTok was in. People of all ages took to TikTok, re-creating videos and voiceovers. Waking up and seeing a new dance routine was the highlight of my day.”

The pandemic became more than an interruption to Rue’s daily life when her mother, Marchina Smith, tested positive in July. Rue describes her mother’s quarantine in Chapter 5:

“This pandemic definitely made me realize how important family is and to cherish all the time you can with them … The time that she was on quarantine, we FaceTimed a lot, just to help the time go by. I’m 10 years old, and every chance I get, I still crawl in the bed and sleep with her. Me getting sick was not a risk she was willing to take. I wondered what it was like for those who had to quarantine with family members who were exposed to ‘The Rona.’”

While writing the book, Rue had the idea to turn it into a useful tool for other children — or anyone, for that matter — seeking a way to express their feelings about 2020. She created discussion questions and left blank spaces for readers to write in their answers.

Winston Academy Principal Ava Brown says she plans to use Rue’s book to get the entire fifth grade reading and talking about their pandemic experiences.

“In addition to helping them process everything that has happened during the pandemic, I think the book will also teach them another lesson — that there are no limits. If you want to write a book at 10 years old, write a book,” Brown said.

Obviously never one to set limits for herself, Rue is already looking ahead to her next projects. She’s developed a line of nail polishes and, to kickstart her acting career, she plans on auditioning for commercials once the pandemic lifts. In between her entrepreneurial endeavors she enjoys cheerleading and eating pizza.

“We are very proud,” said her dad, Rico Rue.