IDAHO FALLS — You may not know her name, but if you’re a parent of young children you’ve probably read her books.
Michelle Nelson-Schmidt is the author and illustrator of multiple children’s books, including “Cordelia,” “Bob is a Unicorn,” and “Jonathan James and the WhatIf Monster.”
She is also a motivational speaker and often speaks at elementary schools across the country. Eastern Idaho is one place she’d love to visit to share her special message for children.
“You matter,” Nelson-Schmidt tells EastIdahoNews.com. “When you share who you are and share your joy with the rest of us, you’ll change the world just by being you.”
In this era of Youtube stars, Nelson-Schmidt says kids are so hungry to hear they’re ok exactly as they are and that their value doesn’t come from how many “likes” they have. Many of her books teach kids to believe in themselves and she is often compared to Mister Rogers because of it.
“I grew up watching him and he had a huge influence on my life,” she says. “It’s the biggest compliment of my life to hear people say, ‘When I think of Mr. Rogers I think of Ms. Michelle.’ I have that same heart for children that he had.”
Nelson-Schmidt says she loved telling stories as a kid and enjoyed being the center of attention. She also had a natural talent for drawing. She says she developed a style of art that kids were really drawn to. Though she’s always loved children’s books, she never considered becoming a writer until kids became interested in her art.
“I finally just said ‘I want to tell stories to kids.’ I really wanted to be in the schools. That was probably my biggest goal. They won’t just let anyone come into a school and talk to kids. You have to have done something worthy and a book would get me in the door,” Nelson-Schmidt says.
She’s grateful to her parents for teaching her that getting good grades in school was something she was capable of and that hard work does not warrant special recognition.
Dreams are achievable, she says, but failure is part of the journey and it’s important for kids to learn that.
“Kids are extraordinarily intelligent beings that I don’t think we give them near enough credit for. They are just smaller humans and they are capable of so much more than we think,” Nelson-Schmidt says.
The “WhatIf Monster” is her latest project. It’s a series of easy reader chapter books for first and second graders. The first three books are now available on Amazon and her website. The fourth one will be released in April.
Michelle Nelson-Schmidt lives in Perdido Key, Florida and is the mother of two kids.
“Sometimes I need to pinch myself when I realize that this is actually my life,” she writes on her website. “I love that I get to show my children and all the children I meet that life is what you make it and that persistence and hard work will overcome almost any obstacle.”
Idaho is one of seven states Nelson-Schmidt has never been, but she is hoping to visit sometime in the future. If you’d like to book her for a speaking engagement at your school or event, click here. You can also reach out to her on Facebook.
LISTEN TO OUR CONVERSATION WITH MICHELLE NELSON-SCHMIDT IN THE VIDEO PLAYER ABOVE. Click here to download the audio.