A Family That Writes Together

A Family That Writes Together

The Travers clan doesn't just read books - they publish them

By Reid Oslin
Staff Writer

Boston College's first family of publishing is at it again.

Prof. Emeritus John F. Travers Jr. (LSOE) and his wife Barbara, a librarian, are working on a reading skills and development textbook, Discovering Children's Literature in the 21st Century. Geared primarily for undergraduate and graduate-level education students, the book will be published by Houghton-Mifflin Co. and is expected to be ready for distribution in 2004.

Prof. Emeritus John F. Travers Jr. (LSOE) and his wife Barbara are writing a reading skills and development textbook, while their son John III is working on his second novel. "Our book sounds pretty dull when you put it next to John's," quips John Jr., to which his son replies: "I hope they both will do well at the bookstores." (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)
The couple's son, John Travers III '84, meanwhile, is currently writing his second novel. The still-untitled murder mystery, set in the context of a Massachusetts political campaign, is expected to be ready for publication next summer.

John III, who is vice principal for student affairs at Boston College High School, published his first novel, a Boston-based mystery titled The Price of Love, last May.

John Jr. has written more than 30 professional articles, a trade book and is the author or co-author of seven textbooks in the field of child and educational psychology. This is his first publishing venture with his wife, who has a strong professional background in children's literature.

"Our marriage may even survive the book," he said, with a laugh. "Former Senator Howard Baker once said that the secret for a happy marriage is having two bathrooms. I think our secret is having two separate studies in our house.

"It takes a while to go from one to the other, and we usually cool off before we get to the other room."

John Jr. said the co-authored textbook will include a compilation of children's' literature appropriate to the understanding and development needs of the individual child. "It's not biblio-therapy," Barbara Travers said. "It's books that will make teachers aware of the developmental needs of the children and be able to help them as a child faces issues such as family divorce, self-concept or impulsivity."

The book will span the genres of children's literature from picture books to contemporary realistic fiction. Each chapter will include reading guidelines for teachers, a developmental summary and relevant "spinoffs" to help teachers and librarians extend the children's enjoyment of literature and which reflect their responses to the individual genres.

"The typical textbook of this type usually wraps up the development issues in one chapter," noted John Travers. "We try to integrate them into every chapter."

Reading, writing and Boston College were always key ingredients in the Travers household, according to John Travers III.

John III and each of his three sisters - Elizabeth '79, Ellen '82 and Jane '85 - are Boston College graduates, following in the footsteps of his dad, a rare "Quadruple Eagle" (he's a graduate of BC High, and holds bachelor's master's and doctoral degrees from Boston College). Barbara has a master's degree from BC to go along with her diplomas from Emmanuel and Simmons colleges.

In addition to her career as a librarian and teacher, Barbara Travers has been chair of the New England Round Table for Young Adult Librarians. She is a founder of the Literary Lunch Bunch, an intergenerational book club for seniors and middle school students that is active in several Massachusetts towns.

"Education was always valued in our house while we were growing up," noted John Travers III. "I read a lot of history when I was a student, but I have been reading more and more fiction over the years. I developed a lot of ideas myself and started writing them down. During the past few summers, I have put those ideas into two books. It has worked out pretty well."

His newest novel involves a female candidate for the US Senate who secretly contracts to have her husband murdered in an effort to generate a "sympathy vote" among the Massachusetts electorate.

"Our book sounds pretty dull when you put it next to John's," said his father.

"I hope they both will do well at the bookstores," John III diplomatically added.


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