Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Write On! Harrisburg middle school student publishes book

Laela Hooper at her book signing event at Ben Franklin Elementary

While most 11-year-olds are reading books, Laela Hooper was writing one. 

The rising sixth-grader at Marshall Math and Science Academy in Harrisburg published her book, “The Tale of Alysa,” this past March. 

The book follows Alysa, who is stranded on the Planet Isykr, and her struggle to return to earth.

Laela’s book journey began when she was a fourth-grader at Ben Franklin Elementary. She was assigned to write a flash fiction short story for class and was asked to expand on it. Laela’s story was then chosen out of 10 other student finalists to be turned into a picture book through ReadyAimWrite Kids Publishing, LLC. 

“It’s amazing,” said Laela’s mom Dawn Moccia-Hooper. “Sometimes, my husband and I will be like, ‘we have an 11-year-old who’s a published author.’ I’m so proud.”

This past school year, Ben Franklin Elementary bought 300 copies of the book to hand out to third- and fourth-graders. Laela signed all of the copies purchased. 

However, Laela’s favorite part of the experience wasn’t the book signing or the numerous interviews; it was the process of writing the book.

“Figuring out the plot was the coolest part,” Laela said. 

From here, it seems like Laela’s writing career is just getting started.

“She has something in the works already,” Moccia-Hooper said. 

“The Tale of Alysa” is available for purchase on the ReadyAimWrite Kids website. Laela is available for book signings by contacting her mother at

If you like what we do, please support our work. Become a Friend of TheBurg!

Continue Reading