Gary D. Schmidt: awesome Gordon alum

In the last few years, Gary D. Schmidt has been honored by the Newbery committee in 2005 and 2008, once in 2005 by the Printz, and in 2011 by the National Book Award. Whoa. Oh yeah, and he went to Gordon! I can’t think of the last time I was so excited about the amazing things Gordon alumni have done with their lives.

I’ve written here previously about the awesomeness of The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt. It’s beautifully and realistically written, it made me laugh a lot, and it’s heartwarming. If you don’t know me all that well, you might not know that I don’t bestow the description of “heartwarming” lightly or frequently. So if I think it’s touching and heartwarming, than it is freaking amazing. He writes about about Vietnam war in the way that it would affect the life of a 7th grader: through the lives of his family and those around him. The main character doesn’t know everything about the war and he doesn’t have to. He is just living it as he is and trying to figure out his own individual life in the shadow of the war.

Other than his great writing in general, I think that Schmidt has a great explanation for wanting to write for children and teens. He realizes that it’s an exciting and compelling time of a person’s life. Here’s an a little quote from an article on the Calvin College website where he talks about why he writes for teens:

“In his literature, Schmidt likes to ask the questions that adolescents are asking to discover their identities. ‘That’s intriguing to me. Adolescence is a critical time in life when you really do make decisions that develop who you are. How many adults do you know who are flexible and are rethinking the decisions they’ve priorly made?'”

This is a wonderful viewpoint to have. It’s a great reminder that writing for children and teens doesn’t have to be “writing down” or pandering or pedagogical. Again, good writing is good writing no matter what the reading level.

So for this reason, I want to try to get Mr. Schmidt to come to Gordon and speak. What an inspiration to writers and readers of all kinds. I’m not really sure how to go about it but hopefully other people at Gordon realize what an exciting program it would be to have him.

And of course, I really like his writing, so I’d be all author nervous and dorky.

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