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Video: Minnesota storytelling teacher launches book dreams through Kickstarter

Apr 23, 2021 06:24AM ● By Editor

Watch the Fox 9 News Report here

Language arts teacher Matt Eicheldinger speaks to his class. Photo: Wayzata Public Schools

By Leah Beno of KMSP-TV Fox 9 News - April 22, 2021

Grabbing the attention of sixth graders is an art. One that Wayzata language arts teacher Matt Eicheldinger, better known as Mr. Eich, seems to have mastered.

Each day, he pulls a piece of paper from a jar, full of slightly exaggerated stories from his childhood.

"They end up resetting my broken toe, which is where they say, 'Hey this is going to hurt a little.' And you go, 'What?' And they go crack and they reset it," Mr. Eich shared with this classroom.

"Most of my stories are embarrassing for me, which kids like to hear about," said Eicheldinger.

It’s his way of connecting with students, holding their attention, and inspiring them to read and write about anything.
"I think if you are in my classroom you know laughter is kind of a fundamental piece of what we’re doing," he said. "Because I feel like if we are laughing everyone has total buy-in because they don’t want to miss anything."

After more than a decade of teaching -- plus parenting -- and compiling his collection of stories, 30 days ago Mr. Eich and his family launched a video and Kickstarter campaign. He’s written and done most of the illustrations for the semi-autobiography entitled "Matt Sprouts and the Curse of Ten Broken Toes."

"My hope is if people find the book in a bookstore they can realize books can make you laugh, not just a YouTube video or TikTok, I can find some joy and some peace and quiet," he said.

In just over a day, Mr. Eich reached his $12,000 goal. Now, a month later -- and more than $19,000 in funds -- he's partnered with local publishers and the book will be going to print in September. 

"It has a really good beginning, so it caught me at the first parts, so I just wanted to read all the way through," said Aidan Gagnon, a student.

"He knows what kind of books kids like," said Mason Gagnon, a student.

For Mr. Eich, the support is the unexpected twist in this story.

"Thank you to the community, it’s been hard, but it’s been overwhelming," he said.

To watch the original story and see related reporting, follow this link to the Fox 9 News website.

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