Chagrin Falls students enjoy visit of youth novels author John David Anderson

Author spoke with fourth- through eighth-graders

JDA.JPGAuthor John David Anderson speaking at a Chagrin Falls Middle School assembly on Nov. 30. 

CHAGRIN FALLS, Ohio — John David Anderson wouldn’t be surprised if the Chagrin Falls Exempted Village Schools system produces an author with writing talents similar to his.

“My favorite part was talking to the students, especially the young writers who are already so passionate about their craft,” Anderson, the author of numerous well-known novels for youngsters, said  Wednesday (Dec. 5) of his Nov. 30 visit to Chagrin Falls Middle School.

“There are a lot of talented young storytellers and eager readers there. … Plus, I enjoyed walking around downtown and stopping in the delicious popcorn shop,” he said.

Anderson’s trademark humor was just part of why Chagrin Falls Schools Library Media Specialist Angie Jameson brought in Anderson, with the help of the Parents Teachers Organization and the Educational Foundation.

“Dave is a goofy guy, and he is a perfect fit for our middle grade and intermediate school students,” Jameson said of Anderson, who spoke in front of nearly 700 fourth- through eighth-graders and 40 staffers in two assemblies at the high school’s Performing Arts Center.

“He definitely gets on the students’ level and made all of our students laugh during every part of the school visit,” she said.

“He ran a wonderful writers workshop with our Power of the Pen teams and Literary Magazine staff, offering critiques to quick writes and advice for revision and drafting. The assemblies were hilarious and hit home with the audience.”

Anderson showed his serious side, too. His ability to do that while connecting with students was another reason he got Jameson’s invitation.

“Students were encouraged to read, write, dream big and, most importantly, to be kind to one another,” Jameson said. “I expected the visit would inspire students to read and write, as well as carefully consider how they use language in their everyday lives.

“His middle-grade novel ‘Posted’ discusses how bullying — cyber and in person — can affect a students’ overall sense of self,” she said. 

Anderson’s emphasis on kindness impressed Jameson when she read “Posted.” Anderson, who also spoke with two book clubs at the school, is also known for novels including “Ms. Bixby’s Last Day,” “Insert Coin to Continue” and others that have earned him numerous awards.

“To ask questions, to seek inspiration from all around them and to invest in their dreams by working hard and being persistent,” Anderson said of what he tried to convey to students.  

“I was impressed by their love of books and reading. That includes teachers and staff. It was clear the school (prioritized) reading not just as an educational necessity, but as an enjoyable and personally fulfilling enterprise,” he said.

Asked his age via an email exchange, Anderson characteristically replied, “physical age:43. Occasional emotional maturity age equivalent: 12.”

He has a knack for communication that youngsters appreciate.

“He certainly had a good sense of humor and actually knew how to talk to the kids,” said eighth-grader Ryan Waldman. “I feel like some adults who come in and talk to the kids talk to us like we’re adults. He had a better sense of what we would understand. He told us not to give up on our dreams.”

Eighth-grader Lily Hughes benefited from the writers’ workshop with Anderson, saying: “I learned a lot about how to start stories with a good hook that will interest the reader. It was valuable as a writer.”

Said seventh-grader Hollie Markham, “It was really fun, because you don’t often get to experience talking with the author of a book you read and enjoyed.”

Anderson and his wife, Alithea, live in Indianapolis with their 13-year-old twins, Bella and Nick.

“I really enjoy the school visits because it allows me to meet my target audience,” he said, “but I’m still thankful to be back in my lair, cooking up new stories to share and challenging myself to grow as a writer.”

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