Author Cressida Cowell surprises students at IDEA Royal Reader Celebration

Renowned author of “How to Train Your Dragon,” Cressida Cowell, spoke to students during the IDEA Royal Reader celebration on Tuesday, May 16 at Shrine Auditorium to motivate students to continue to read. (Photo, Nathaly Cruz)

On May 16, IDEA San Antonio hosted the Royal Reader Celebration at Shrine Auditorium, where nearly 700 students were recognized as IDEA Royal Readers for having read over a million words. Students received Royal Reader medals and were treated to an open party at the end of the ceremony.

The requirements for students to qualify included reading a minimum of one million to two million words (depending on grade level) throughout the school year, in addition to scoring at least an 85 percent on all Accelerated Reader (AR) quizzes.

Renowned author of “How to Train Your Dragon,” Cressida Cowell, was one of the surprises the students received. Cowell spoke to IDEA Royal Reader students about what inspired her to become a writer and her passion for reading.

Cowell started writing short stories at the age of 9 and continued to do so as she grew up. “I was writing short stories then, but it is all about practicing writing and not making it into a schooly thing that you have to write about,” she said.

The renowned author told children to write about what they love, what they like and not to worry if they do not finish the story; it is all about practicing how to write.

In an interview with La Prensa Cowell expressed how important it is to go to college.

“Sometimes I think children grow up thinking, ‘Well, that is not for me, I don’t come from that kind of background that can go to college,’” she said. “This program seems to be really inspiring to children and that college can be for them. It’s about telling the children and the parents that they can do it. It is very important that every child, wherever they are from, that they now they have a chance; that they can go to college.”

For all of Cowell’s fans, she has a new book coming out in six months called “Wizards of Once.” Her new book takes place in a magical world where two heroes, who are never supposed to cross paths because they are from different tribes, meet along the way.

“The boy hero is a wizard, who is about 13, but his magic hasn’t come in yet, so it is kind of embarrassing. The girl is a warrior. Wizards and warriors are fighting. She is going to band a magical object, and she will do it anything to concede it,” she described.

Cowell loves writing about magic since she enjoyed reading books about magic when she was growing up. “I love writing about this world because I loved reading books about magic when I was a kid. It is wonderful to have magical things,” she explained.

The author of “How to Train Your Dragon” never imagined that her books would become movies. “It is unbelievable! Not part of my plans! I never imagined that, not even when I was growing up. Sometimes lovely things happen,” she said.

Jackie Plata is an AR teacher at one of the IDEA schools, and she also shared that she received a scholarship from the La Prensa Foundation when she was in college. As a teacher, her ultimate goal is for all of the students to read a book and get an 85 percent or higher when they take the quiz.

“These kids need a lot of motivation and pushing. They get upset with me because they get pulled in from P.E. and from lunch. But, I keep telling them that they can do this, they got this,” Plata said.

This celebration is an annual event to reward and encourage students to read more in the classroom and at home. The outcome of the program has been great since the number of students who qualify as Royal Reader has dramatically increased. For more information on IDEA schools please visit


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