From computer coder to published author before 6th grade

He couldn’t yet type on a keyboard, but he loved science and had tons of support from his parents. Now a Kalamazoo elementary school student is getting ready to tell the world about it.

Next week is a big week for John I. Bolden II.

The first-time children’s book author will have a launch party Tuesday for his book, “John B. and the Wonderful World of Coding,” and then on Saturday will be doing a reading at a local Brown Boy Brown Girl Reads gathering. 

“It’s about a boy, John B., which is me, who has a dream about his computer talking to him. It inspires him on his journey to do coding,” John says.

cover of a book "John B. and the Wonderful World of Coding" by "Author: john I. Bolden II". The cover has a picture of John B, a young, Black boy, along with a picture of a computer screen and the word "ideas"
John B. and the Wonderful World of Coding is John Bolden II’s first book, but the 6th grader says it won’t be his last.

Not bad for someone who won’t be 12 years old until next month – though he’s been writing computer programs for half a decade.

“I started coding in second grade,” says John, a Kalamazoo Public Schools student who is going into sixth grade in the fall. He is the son of John F. and Dee Bolden, who have lent him their support and encouragement.

His mother, a chemist and writer, says she observed John’s love of science and the joy he got from working with his hands, and she thought coding might interest him.

“I said, ‘Mom, I want to do this,’ and I just started,” John says.

Dee Bolden says John’s Python tutor worked with him on coding.

John also likes to read, but “it just can’t be a boring book.” His favorites are Star Wars, Marvel and, of course, books about coding.

Several months ago, John got the idea to write a book, not a small one, but one with multiple chapters. The only problem was he didn’t know how to type.

So, with his mom at the keyboard, John composed the book in his head and told her what to type. The process took several months and the end result was 110 pages in 10 chapters which the publisher, Written Wisdom Press of Kalamazoo, says is geared toward children ages seven through 12. 

“This heartwarming story serves as a reminder to keep pursuing your dreams and never give up,” according to the publisher. “Through its pages, readers of all ages will be inspired to embrace their passions, overcome obstacles, and embark on their transformative journeys.”

John Bolden II, an 11-year-old Black boy in a striped blue shirt and jeans, sits in a padded gray chair. He has his hand on his chin as if he's thinking.
John I. Bolden II

Not only does John have a vivid imagination, but he likes to write and he wants to share his enjoyment of coding with others, his mom says.

“I want to reach out to kids and tell them coding can be fun,” John says. “You can make games and it can be fun.”

John says he has written programs for two games as part of a Python tutoring assignment.

A perk of being a published author is becoming a celebrity to your friends, John has learned.

“One of my friends said, ‘Could I get your autograph?’”

John, who also likes playing football and basketball and being with his dog, Niko, says his career goal is to become either a computer engineer or an entrepreneur. 

He has a great role-model in the latter category in his sister, Anaya, who started her own business, Sugar Sweet Bath & Body Treatment, in 2018 when she was 14 years old. Now 19, she continues as CEO of the business.

John says he is already planning a second book.

“There is going to be a sequel,” he says. “You’re going to have to read the (first) book to understand what’s going to happen next.”

This time, however, he will have to write it without the help of his mother.

Upon completion of the first book, she enrolled him in an online keyboarding class.

John says that helped with his typing skills.  “I’m better at it, but I’m not the best,” he says.

Pre-ordered copies were to be delivered to John and his parents this week for distribution at the book launch at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Seasons of Change Church, 1323 Lane Boulevard. The book launch also will be streamed live over Facebook.
The book may be ordered at the launch and over John’s personal website, The cost is $21.97 for a hard copy and $11.97 in paperback.

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