Gordon Fredrickson is a storyteller and teacher. He has had a number of books published over the 17 years he has been writing, but Fredrickson doesn’t just write to put out books. He is helping preserve history and the heritage of agriculture from days gone by.
“If Laura Ingalls had not written her books about life on the farm when she was growing up, we wouldn’t know a lot about it,” said Fredrickson. “I am hoping 100 years from now people will read my books and have a better understanding of what farm life was like in the 1950s.”
Fredrickson was in Redwood Falls March 22 to speak with students at Reede Gray Elementary School about his books and what it takes to be a writer.
“Everyone has stories,” Fredrickson told the students. “I have lots of stories to tell and so many books planned. The problem I have is not enough time to get it all done.”
Fredrickson’s books are based on his experiences growing up on a farm, and in one of his series the family depicted is based on his, with him in the role of a 10-year-old boy named Jimmy.
With fewer and fewer people connected to the farm today, Fredrickson feels the need to help keep the stories of the farm alive through his books, and in a way is he also helping children and their families better understand what it means to be part of the agricultural way of life.
Whether it is stories about putting up hay on hot sticky days or having to rebuild fences after the cows get out, Fredrickson’s tales share the realities of life on the farm and the hard work it takes to do it. Of course, there is plenty of fun along the way as well.
After leaving the family farm, Fredrickson became a high school English teacher, and when he retired Fredrickson got more involved in writing books and telling the stories that were important to him and that he believed needed to be told.
“My books are not about glorifying the ‘good old days,’” Fredrickson told the students. “I want my books to celebrate rural heritage and keep those stories being told. A story not told is a story lost forever.”
Fredrickson said he dedicates his books to his parents and his two older sisters. He said he appreciated the fact that they were all so nice to him and would spend time reading to him.
“I want you to go home and thank the people who read to you,” he said, adding to students that they can also fill that role and read to younger siblings, too.
Fredrickson encouraged the students to listen to the stories being told by their parents, grandparents and other family members, because those stories can then continue to be told to future generations.
“People have stories,” he said. “Just ask them to tell them to you.”
Fredrickson recalled being in the second grade and having the chance in school to read the books on the shelf at school. He read “Horton Hatches the Egg” by Dr. Seuss 100 times, he said, adding he still has a copy of it and will read it at least once each year.
Stories, said Fredrickson, are great things that can help students learn, but they can also encourage them to share them with others, just like he does. Great memories have inspired Fredrickson to write books, and he believes that is the best way others can share their memories, too.
Learn more about Fredrickson at www.gordonfredrickson.com.