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KPU English instructor finds success teaching with his own books

KPU English instructor finds success teaching with his own books

Tue, Mar 7, 2023
karl petersen

Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) instructor Karl Petersen teaches his English language class strictly by the book.

His book, actually.Book

Petersen is author of Stars Beyond the Veil, a recently-published young adult adventure novel he uses as a coursebook for advanced English language studies classes at KPU.

“I’m passionate about literacy, especially for our youth, which fits my teaching career,” says Petersen, a father of two girls and a KPU instructor for 21 years. “My hope for this novel is that foremost it entertains while it also spurs literacy and opens windows onto ultimate life questions.”

The book is a follow-up to The Kingdom of What Is – the first in a fantasy series that has drawn comparisons to the popular C. S. Lewis book series The Chronicles of Narnia.

Stars Beyond the Veil follows 15-year-old Kate and two friends on their quest in a beautiful kingdom, which they discover is under siege by a pretender to the throne. The tyrant has brought a devastating plague on the citizens and their land, and has driven the rightful king and queen into exile. Kate and her friends join a secret band of rebels to take down the tyrant and restore the kingdom before it is completely lost.

Midway through writing the first book, Petersen thought the series would fit well with his English classes teaching goals of improving reading accuracy, increasing reading speed and boosting critical thought.

“I’ve been getting really positive feedback. The students are engaged more. The discussions are easier because it’s a story,” he says.

“Narration often accomplishes reading goals in a way that more content-focused texts cannot do as well. My thinking is that if these stories can engage us on a more emotional and experiential level, there should be more buy-in from the readers. And there is – it sustains them over the course of the semester.”

Stars Beyond the Veil, published late last summer, is Petersen’s fifth book, bringing together his interests in community, the natural world and theology. Although written for teenagers, Petersen says its themes make the series equally suited for adults.

“Half the readers of teen fiction are adults. As a 14-year-old we might read a story and get some enjoyment out of it, but as we often find out when we read the book as an adult we see so much more in it.”

Stars Beyond the Veil is available through publisher Friesen Press and other online booksellers. Petersen’s other books include two poetry collections and the childhood memoir, Reformed: Confessions of a Preacher’s Kid.