The Ray and Brenda Willis Scholarship

Mom and Dad Engaged.jpg


Kimberly Willis Holt is a National Book Award winner and a former military kid. Her father served 21 years in the United States Navy. Kimberly’s mother often said, “When your dad is in the Navy, your whole family is in the Navy.”

In honor of her parents and her military childhood, Kimberly is offering the Ray and Brenda Willis Scholarship(named after her parents) to DODEA schools and schools with at least 75 percent military dependents. The scholarship will be awarded to one base a year.

Here are some of the details:

  • Kimberly will spend three days speaking and conducting writing workshops (three sessions a day)at elementary and secondary schools on the base. This will be done at no charge.
  • Kimberly will participate in an evening event open to military families at no charge.
  • Travel expenses (explained in the application) must be paid by the participating schools.
  • Visit will be made during a mutually agreed upon week.

Below are testimonies reflecting Kimberly’s recent visits to NAS Sigonella and Camp Le Jeune-


“When I wrote the initial grant application to get funding for this author visit, I emphasized the enduring value of having the opportunity to hear a successful writer read their work aloud and speak about their experiences.

All of the kids were very enthusiastic about it, but one child's simple words went straight to my heart: "She told me I was a good writer". I am confident that fourth grade girl will never forget those words or the time she spent with Kimberly Willis Holt. I hope that those powerful words are now permanently lodged in a special place deep within her psyche and that they continue to give her hope and encouragement when she faces challenges, rejections, and hours of re-writes. Meeting authors in person is a pretty exciting experience, but meeting authors like Kimberly whose dedication and passion are so sincere, can truly a be a life shaping experience.”

Lucia Saperstein, Parent who orchestrated Kimberly’s visit to NAS Sigonella

"Kimberly Willis Holt is an author who knows not only how to write for children, but how to speak to them too. Her enthusiasm for stories is infectious, every child - even those not usually drawn towards books - feels it and is piqued with curiosity about "what comes next?" And her empathy for seeing those stories from a child's point of view infuses her language and personal appeal with a degree of warmth and humor that I believe helps these children feel that a part of their own stories - or certainly their own joys and concerns - are being expressed.

At Camp Lejeune Marine Base hundreds of children had fun sharing Kimberly Willis Holt's book, Piper Reed, Navy Brat with their classmates and families, because they all shared the connection of knowing what it's like to experience Piper Reed's feelings as she moves, endures her dad's deployment, and enters a new school. When Piper Reed's author, Kimberly Willis Holt came to their school and shared her own personal experience as a military child, and talked about the experience of writing down one's life stories, this sense of connection was further deepened. Students did not just read a book and meet the author, they had a profound book experience that was relevant to their lives, and they met an author who really made a difference."

Becky Malecki, CIV, OSD/DoDEA-Americas

To receive an application, please contact Kimberly at