Author Gilbert-Ian Rueda, center, with student Diego Holguin, left, and Santosh.

The Santosh book was published in October of 2016 and has reached a greater number of readers than author Gilbert-Ian Rueda imagined.

The 50-page book is the first part of a series that plans to take kids and their parents along a journey as Santosh grows.

“In writing this story, I wasn’t just thinking of ‘Oh, this is going to be a fun little story for kids,’” said Rueda. “I wanted to create something that was deep and would really resonate with people on different levels.”

 The 34-year-old elementary school teacher spent approximately six years on what he plans to be a series of books detailing the many adventures of Santosh.

“Nobody knew I was doing this,” Rueda said. “I didn’t tell a soul.”

Born in Houston, Rueda moved to El Paso at age 1. Although he moved away and back to the Sun City several times, he considers himself 100 percent El Pasoan.

Rueda combines his passion for teaching, reading and writing on a daily basis and through his work hopes to address what he perceives to be a low appeal for reading in this generation.

“The need to inspire kids to read was very important,” Rueda said. “I thought if I could write a good story that children can fall in love with, then it’ll inspire them to keep wanting to read more books.”

Rueda uses a combination of personal experiences and passions – his dog Cooper, moving around often as a kid, and even the loss of a close family member – to inspire and help kids as they go through life.

This approach has proven successful, with Rueda receiving great feedback from readers all across the country. What he thought would start as a regional project has quickly spread to places like Nevada, Washington, Pennsylvania and Florida.

Rueda plans to inspire kids through Santosh and teaching for many years to come. He has some advice for kids who have a passion for writing.

“Write whatever comes to your mind,” Rueda said. “Don’t worry about what other people might think about your stories. Just write. For a writer, your practice is writing and reading books.”