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Christoph von Schmid

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Writer of children's stories and educator, b. at Dinkelsbuehl, in Bavaria, 15 Aug., 1768; d. at Augsburg in 1854. He studied theology at Dillingen, and, having been ordained priest in 1791, served as assistant in several parishes till 1796, when he was placed at the head of a large school in Thannhausen on the Mindel, where he taught for many years. He soon began writing books for children, of which the earliest was "First Lessons about God for the Little Ones", written in words of one syllable; next, a "Bible History for Children", a work which became very popular far beyond the confines of Bavaria ; and, lastly, his famous stories for children. From 1816 to 1826 he was parish priest at Oberstadion in Würtemberg. In the latter year he was appointed canon of the Cathedral of Augsburg, where he died of cholera in his eighty-seventh year. In 1841 he began the publication of a complete edition in twenty-four volumes of his scattered writings. In the introduction he tells his readers how his stories were written. They were not composed for an unknown public, and in a mercenary spirit, but for children, among whom the author daily moved, and were not at first meant for publication. To enforce his lessons in religious instruction, he sought to illustrate them by examples taken from Christian antiquity, from legends, and other sources. Usually a story or a chapter was read to the children after school hours as a reward, on condition that they should write it down at home. He thus became familiar with the range of thought and the speech of children, and was careful to speak their language rather than that of books. He was able to observe with his own eyes what it was that impressed the minds and hearts of children both of tender and of riper years. Their manner of repeating the stories also helped him.

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He was the pioneer writer of books for children, and his great merits are fully acknowledged by both Catholic and Protestant writers on pedagogics. His stories have been translated into twenty-four languages, and to this day he is regarded in Germany as the prince of story-writers for the young. He is the greatest educator Bavaria produced in the eighteenth century, and ranks, both as to theory and practice, with the most celebrated of modern educators. Canon Schmid was the ideal of a mild, charitable, unselfish man, of childlike simplicity of character, a devout Catholic priest, whose virtues are mirrored in his writings. On 3 September, 1901, Thannhausen unveiled the bronze statue of the celebrated story-writer and educator.

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