Author Shelley Pearsall visited Van Wert Middle School on Tuesday. The middle schoolers spent a day in February reading her book “All of the Above.” (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)
Author Shelley Pearsall visited Van Wert Middle School on Tuesday. The middle schoolers spent a day in February reading her book “All of the Above.” (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)

VAN WERT – In February, Van Wert Middle School students read Shelley Pearsall’s “All of the Above” in a single day as part of the One Book One Day challenge. On Tuesday, Pearsall visited the middle school to give a presentation, sign books, and have lunch with students.

“One of the things I’ve always wanted with this book is to make it a community read type of book, and I thought that One Book One Day really brought in the community read concept,” said Pearsall. “The other, longer-term goal that I have with the program is that in schools that maybe kids don’t have a book collection at home or regularly read as a family that this starts to build a little family bookshelf.”

Thanks to donations, each student was able to receive a copy of “All of the Above” to add to their own home library.

Pearsall said she hopes that giving middle school students a chance to read a book for fun allows them to find a love for reading for pleasure.

“Often times the message in schools is that you read for a purpose like testing or writing a paper, and I think at the beginning of middle school kids start to lose the sense of reading for pleasure,” said Pearsall. “I feel like it’s important to have a book where they just read it and just talk about it, make recipes from it, and have fun with it.”

Pearsall, who is from the Cleveland area and is a former teacher, has been writing books for 17 years and has published six novels. She said she has always had a love of stories which inspired her to be an author.

“I like listening to people’s stories and trying to put my own twist on it,” said Pearsall. “I luckily came from a family that whenever we would get together, there was always stories, and I was always just sitting there absorbing them all. Writing books is really just an extended form of storytelling.”

Pearsall stressed the importance of reading for those who aspire to become a writer one day.

“Do a lot of reading because especially when you’re young, that is a time when you’re filling that well of ideas, stories, characters, and words that you’ll use for the rest of your life,” said Pearsall.

Pearsall also suggests being open to the story ideas that occur every day.

“So many people spend so much time on screens that we’re really not listening or watching for stories,” said Pearsall. “Get away from screens and develop your own observational skills.”

“Do interesting things that you can write about whether it’s volunteering or traveling, because really what will make your writing unique is that you are writing about something that means something to you,” added Pearsall.

Pearsall visits around 30 to 40 schools a year where she meets a variety of students, especially in the Ohio area.

“I see a wonderful cross-section of Ohio schools,” said Pearsall who noted she recently visited a school that was built in 1913 and also recently visited a library in Columbus that served an African immigrant community. “We meet all different audiences; it shows you the diversity of our state, our country, in education, and in our kids.”

“I’m really grateful that the school and community embraced reading this book,” added Pearsall. “And I love the county library here. It’s a gorgeous building.”

Pearsall’s visit was made possible through the generosity of Tom and Cheryl Compton with the assistance of Randy Gardner.