Former Pioneer Press sports reporter turned children's author

A former Pioneer Press sports writer is adding another children’s book to his resume.

Sean Jensen of Hopkins is releasing his fourth book this week, in a series that tells life stories of famous athletes catered to adolescent readers.

The Middle School Rules series adds four-time Pro-Bowler Jamaal Charles to the list of famous athletes who have shared their stories with Jensen, in hopes of encouraging children to pursue their dreams.

"I take very seriously trying to find the right athletes that the kids have heard of but more importantly that I think kids can look up to,” said Jensen.

The books tackle issues like learning disabilities, bullying, divorce and death, and how the athletes didn’t let those issues stop them from achieving their goals.

“They really earned their way to achieve that dream,” said Jensen. "They want kids who look up to them to know that 'hey, I'm here but I was just like you.’”

Charles, who has two daughters and a son on the way, was motivated to tell his story to a children’s audience after reading Jensen’s first book.

"Sean made me open up in some places I didn't want to,” said Charles.        

The book, set for release February 1, delves into Charles’ struggle with a learning disability and the bullying he experienced because of it.

"I know my story can help somebody else and their story can be better than my story,” said Charles.

Jensen is also a father to Elijah, 9, and Zara, 5. He says he hopes his books will encourage them to follow their dreams, even when it may seem impossible.

"I look at my children and would I want my children to look up to these athletes.”