Woodbury middle schooler publishes World War II bookWoodbury Middle School eighth grader Caleb Schoot has spent many hours reading in the school’s library, but now he has another reason to visit the school library – his first-ever published book is on the shelves.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
Woodbury Middle School eighth grader Caleb Schoot has spent many hours reading in the school’s library, but now he has another reason to visit the school library – his first-ever published book is on the shelves.
In the summer of 2010, Schoot wrote and released a non-fiction book titled “Pearl Harbor.”
Trying his hand at writing
It was in the spring of 2010 when Schoot first came up with the idea of writing a book.
“I was reading a book, it was interesting, so I started writing,” he said. “It’s fun to challenge myself.”
Schoot said he was drawn to the history of World War II because it impacted so much of today’s society.
“It was basically the turning point in history from the old to the new,” he said. “I’m not doing this because it’s about me; I’m trying to get more people aware of what all these people went through.
“I don’t think people realize what people went through back then.”
Initially Schoot said he was going to write a book on the entirety of World War II, but ultimately decided it was too big of an undertaking and decided to narrow his focus to the battle at Pearl Harbor.
When Schoot first told WMS social studies teacher Jamey Mills his plans to write a book, he was met with a little skepticism.
“I nodded at him and said ‘good for you, Caleb,’” he said, “’You can do whatever you want to do.’”
Schoot started the writing process by reading numerous historical retellings of the battle of Pearl Harbor.
“I’d read a paragraph and then I’d summarize it and try to add other things like people’s stories,” he said.
Schoot finished his book in August of 2010, just a few months after he started it.
“It wasn’t really all that hard,” he said.
Schoot decided to self-publish his book through an online publishing site called “Lulu.”
“Pearl Harbor” is 50 pages in length.
An incredible student
One of the first people Schoot showed his finished book to was Mills.
“He literally shoved a piece of paper at me with a website as he walked out the door,” he said. “When I went online I thought ‘You’ve got to be kidding me, he wrote a book.’”
Mills said the accomplishment is nothing short of extraordinary.
“I feel so great for Caleb that he chose to actually do something like that,” he said. “For a 12-year old kid to follow through and come up with that kind of a finished product is absolutely incredible.
“But there’s no surprise here. We know what he’s capable of.”
Mills said the thing that make’s Schoot’s book special when compared to other historical non-fiction is his focus on people’s stories.
“He empathizes with the people in the stories – it’s not just about what happens,” he said. “To be a good writer you have to have that as your drive.”
Mills said he intends to use Schoot’s book in his classes.
WMS media skills teacher Michelle Simons, who opted to put Schoot’s book in the school library, said she wasn’t all that surprised by Schoot’s accomplishments.
“Caleb is the kind of person that if he says he’s going to do something he will do it – truly it doesn’t surprise me,” she said. “I’ve never had a student read as much as Caleb.”
“Pearl Harbor” will also be added to the library at Woodbury Elementary school, where Schoot was a student.
Schoot is already at work on his second book “D-Day: the Battle that Guaranteed Nazi Germany’s Defeat.”
“I never intended for my first book to be a big deal – it was kind of my practice book,” he said. “This is the book that I’m really focusing on.”
Schoot said he’s fascinated by D-Day because of how the world’s allies came together to defeat Germany.
Schoot said he is taking his time with this book since he is expecting it to be close to 400 pages.
Schoot said he intends to publish it either June 6, 2014 – D-Day’s 80th anniversary – or on the historic day’s 85th anniversary.
“I can’t wait to see what’s next for Caleb,” Mills said. “He’s going to have a World War II series by the time he graduates high school.”