Illinois Authors

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Joel O Estes

Connection to Illinois: Estes lives in Knoxville. He earned his M.S.Ed. in 1989 from Western Illinois University and his B.A. in 1976, from Illinois Wesleyan University.

Biography: Joel Estes serves as emeritus faculty in the Educational Studies Department at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, where he most recently held the position of Chair of the Department. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Illinois Wesleyan University, a Master of Arts Degree in Educational Administration from Western Illinois University, and an Educational Specialist Degree from Illinois state University. He has served on the boards of various educational and civic organizations. He currently serves as the advisor for the Blessings in a Backpack Chapter at Knox College and as the Congregation President of Grace Lutheran Church. Upon retirement, he rediscovered his passion for writing and has numerous writing projects in the works. Preceding his time at Knox, he was an elementary school teacher and principal, a coach, and a school administrator. During his career, he served thousands of students and worked with hundreds of future teachers and educators. He is particularly proud of the work he did in high-need elementary schools, alternative education, and working with underserved students. His debut novel, Stand: A journey of Friendship and Self-Discovery (2023), is his first formally published book. His work in the field of education, in graduate work, and in various civic responsibilities has required the development of a substantial collection of writing. Upon retirement, writing for pleasure has become a major focus. In November of 2023 he published a picture book entitled Last Pick. Most of his recent writing is centered on his experiences in, and perspectives on, his career working with children. This motivates him and provides a treasure trove of situations and ideas.


Primary Literary Genre(s): Fiction

Primary Audience(s): Adult readers; Young adult readers

E-Mail: joestes@​

Selected Titles

Stand: A journey of friendship and self-discovery

Independently Published 2023

In Stand, readers are introduced to middle schooler Ethan Strong, whose journey to discover his own identity evolves over the course of a number of challenging and formative events. Largely by coincidence, Ethan is connected to a guarded agemate, Demarcus Washington. Slowly, over the summer, a friendship develops between the two boys, and Ethan discovers mysterious and endearing facets of his new friend’s character. However, as summer comes to a close, Ethan and Demarcus part ways, heading to different middle schools in the city. After a year apart, Clarkson Public School’s new redistricting policy brings Ethan and Demarcus together again in seventh grade at Easton Middle School on the city’s north side. Despite attempts to understand from a caring teacher, Mrs. Wright, Ethan is forced to come to terms with the repeated troubling treatment of Demarcus, by adults and classmates alike. He is driven to see his own advantages and Demarcus’s challenges, as a young black boy in America. He must decide when and how he will stand for his growing awareness of prejudice and discrimination, and against his own privilege. Stand is a unique, timely, and relevant book that will connect with all middle-grade readers. It is a book that speaks to all of us, young and old alike, about the power of self, of bravery, and of conviction to justice. Stand is a middle-grade roadmap for the journey of becoming a true friend and ally. This story will appeal to a broad audience of middle-grade and young adult readers who are in the midst of their own journey to understand how they fit in our diverse society.