“During my career I was an educator and administrator in elementary, middle and high schools, as well as college, for 33 years,” Page said. “During that time I enjoyed serving as a Boy and Cub Scout master, and a Sunday school teacher. Through all that time, I have seen just about everything children can experience, both positive and negative, and helped these kids solve what many today see as practically unsolvable problems. For the most part, I didn’t have any special technology or divine wisdom. All I had was the head on my shoulders and the heart beating in my chest, and for 33 years those were the only tools I needed.”
Page, a PhD who in retirement became a children’s book author known as Billy D, said that he has dealt with the absolute worst kids in his school and the best ones, too. In most cases, he said that they were one and the same, just on different days.
“It doesn’t take a PhD to figure out why a kid bullies another kid, or why that kid lets the other one bully him,” said Page, author of the children’s book series The Marion Series (www.billydbooks.com). “Both kids are scared of something. The kid who is being bullied is afraid of getting beat up, and the bully is afraid of most everything. The secret is being able to connect with them and figure out what both kids are afraid of and helping them face and defeat those fears. The heart of the matter is really one of the most basic truths I know: every child is special. If you want to prevent problems, then parents and teachers simply need to remind kids of this fact on a regular basis. If you tell them often enough, they’ll begin to believe it and feel it, too.”
But as much as Page is an idealist, he also knows he has to channel that idealism to kids through some harsh realism.
“I put the characters in my books through some paces,” he said. “They encounter the challenges of responsibility, honesty, self-pride, peer pressure, sibling rivalry, and race relations. They experience the consequences of drug use, over-confidence and facing ridicule. On the other hand, my characters also see the benefits from loving people, befriending them and cooperating with others. My characters are grounded by events that are true-to-life, so that the kids who read them, who are also dealing with the realism in their lives, can relate, understand and learn.”
In that way, Page believes kids who read his stories can unconsciously see the parallels in their own lives, and learn the same lessons his characters learn in his stories.
“Is the bully somehow less special than the bullied?” he asked. “Or are both simply good kids in a bad situation who need to see that their lives can be better if they only see how special they are and the difference they can make in other lives? We all need to know where we keep our strength, the parts of ourselves that help us overcome adversities. If our children don’t learn where those places are when they’re kids, they won’t know where to find those places as adults.”
About Bill “BillyD” Page
Bill D. Page, PhD, a.k.a. BillyD, is a graduate of Marion High School, Northern Iowa, Michigan State and St. Louis Universities. He has published two books for children ages nine to twelve, and has others for children two to six near completion. Dr. Page has been a teacher at all levels of public education from elementary through graduate school in Manson and Marion, Iowa, Lincoln Park, Michigan and adjunct professor for Western Michigan University. He lives with his wife of sixty-three years in Muskegon, Michigan. They have three children, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He and his wife are proud to state that there have been no divorces in their immediate family, which has accumulated 181 years of marriage. (www.billydbooks.com)