Thursday, April 28, 2016

Video of the Month: The "Louise Loves Art" Song

Dear Teachers and Librarians,

I know you're pressed for time right now, so I won't keep you long. You would make me EXTREMELY happy if you played the "Louise Loves Art" song for your students today. I think they would smile from ear to ear and feel inspired to create art and sing for the rest of the day. 

 If you're one of the first five people to tweet a photo or a vine to @MrSchuReads of your students singing along to the "Louise Loves Art" song, I will mail you a copy of Louise Loves Art. Thank you! Thank you! Have a great day! Happy reading and singing! 

Thank you!


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Book Trailer Premiere: Gator Dad by Brian Lies

Happy Wednesday! Thank you for stopping by on a regular basis to celebrate children's books and their creators. I am going to give you three fun tasks to complete today. Are you ready? 

Bravo, Brian Lies! I love all the personal touches you included in Gator Dad's book trailer. A++

I wrote the words in orange, and Brian wrote the words in black. Thank you, Brian! 

Gator Dad grew out of my own experiences as a stay-at-home Dad in the late 1990s, and my feeling that I wasn’t represented in picture books. Dads are generally depicted as amiable and loving characters, but they’re often a punch line, bumbling and incompetent. So GATOR DAD is a competent and committed alligator Dad with his three kids, making their way through a day together— from fishy pancakes, to a vast pillow fort, to the final tuck-in—not doing anything especially meaningful, but getting a lot done through their time together. I intend it to be a celebration of the energetic and sometimes unorthodox ways Dads do things, compared to many Moms (“If something’s gone bad in the fridge. . . I’ll let you smell it, too”). 

I have illustrated bats for a DECADE now! Hundreds of thousands of copies along, I still get e-mails from young readers and their parents about what the books mean to them.  However, I’ve been so involved in daily life—raising my daughter, working on the next book and visiting schools around the country—that I didn’t realize how much time had gone by until Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announced a “Box of Bats” gift set of the first three bat books, coming out next year.  It will commemorate the tenth anniversary of the publication of BATS AT THE BEACH in 2006.

If you visited my studio you might be disappointed at how ordinary it is.  No vaulted ceiling, no collection of bones, odd things in bottles, or taxidermy.  Just a lot of books, a drawing table and computer desk.  People who visit think it’s more interesting than I do.  But the things in there are so familiar to me—the sketches taped onto the wall, my childhood books and some of my favorite childhood toys, as well as Post-its and sketches for a bunch of books I plan to do in the future—that to me it just feels like the place I go to work.  I tell students in schools that you don’t need a fancy or elaborate place to write or illustrate stories—you just need a place where you can concentrate.  And it helps if it’s a space that’s all yours—so you don’t have to clean everything up at the end of the day!

Picture books are the entry ramp to the highway of literacy.  They’re one important way we learn that one idea follows another, and another, and becomes a story.  Each picture book is a whole world tucked into 32 pages, sometimes spare, and sometimes complex. Great picture books are easy to underestimate—apparently simple, but often much more intricate and full of truths if you give them the time they deserve.

I’m disheartened when I meet younger and younger students who declare that they’re “out of picture books, and reading chapter books,” because though they see it as a sign of maturity and accomplishment, they’re missing out on a lot of great stories, as well as a firmly-grounded understanding of sequential storytelling, which will help them as they create their own stories.  I suspect there’s a lot of parental bragging going on about having kids who aren’t reading picture books anymore, too.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about my last name, because you could have saved untold numbers of people from pronouncing it wrong!  The name came from Luxembourg around 1840, attached to my many-greats grandfather, and settled itself in Illinois.  It’s been handed down to people who will never be able to enter politics ever since.  Almost everyone in the U.S. with that surname is a relative.

. . . oh, and it rhymes with “cheese.”

I am giving away a copy of Gator Dad.

Rules for the Giveaway

1. It will run from 4/27 to 11:59 PM on 4/28.

2. You must be at least 13.

3. If you win, please pay it forward.

Borrow Gator Dad (after May 3) from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

May is Thank-O-Rama Month!

Dear Reader:

Children, teachers, librarians, administrators, booksellers, parents, and caretakers have been counting down the days until they can get their hands on The Thank You Book, the final (*sobs*) book in the Elephant and Piggie series. I've witnessed kids and adults laugh out loud uncontrollably and cheer hundreds of times because of Gerald and Piggie. They have turned many dormant readers into avid readers. 

I'm thankful for Mo's commitment to creating the best books for young readers, and I know he's thankful for everyone who introduced Elephant and Piggie to kids and supported every book. 

Are you ready for the main event? I am beyond honored to turn over my blog to Mo Willems to share a special video message. Thank you, Mo, Gerald, and Piggie! You make me a better teacher-librarian and read-alouder. (I'm not sure "read-alouder" is a proper term, but Deborah Wiles used it in Countdown, so I am.)

Happy Reading!


Head on over to to download, print, and fill out your own #ThankoRama speech bubbles. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! 

Look for The Thank You Book on May 3. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

WANTED: Photos of Readers with Raymie Nightingale

Dear Rancheros,

I sent out these tweets at 12:01 AM, so it is likely many of you did not see them. Thank you, in advance, for your help! 

Happy reading! 

-John, a grateful reader 

P.S. If you're not on Twitter, please email the photograph to Thank you! 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Happy Saturday, Mr. Sharp!

Dear Mr. Sharp,

Happy, happy Saturday! I hope you had a fantastic day at the Michigan Association for Media in Education's annual conference. 

Can we please Skype next week? I miss your students. I need to know what they are reading and how their hearts are doing. 

Your friend,


Please click here to visit Mr. Sharp's blog. 

The Thank You Book by Mo Willems 

"Good friends stand with you, beside you, next to you." -Kate DiCamillo 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Author-Illustrator Todd Parr

I am celebrating Earth Day and National Teacher Week (a few weeks early) with author-illustrator Todd Parr. I wrote the words in purple, and he wrote the words in black. Thank you, Todd! 

Teachers Rock! is a celebration of teachers and going to school. A book that captures the day-to-day life of what a teacher does every day. It also helps children see that teachers are just like us and
how fun going to school is.

I think teachers are amazing! I mean, I loved most of my teachers when I was in school, but it took me years of being out of school to appreciate all that they are and do for their students.

When I start working on a new book I’m very excited. I can’t wait to see how it turns out. I can’t stop.

If you visited my studio, you would think you were on the set of Toy Story. I love to collect old toy and lunch boxes.

School libraries are not just a place to sit and read. It’s a place where dreams and fantasies are made.

Reading is important! When you read or when someone reads to you it helps you learn and discover new things.

Picture books are the best books of all! You don’t need words. You can tell a story with art. I love going to a bookstore or library just to look at the different picture books. This something I enjoyed even
before I started writing children’s books.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me…
“Do you really eat macaroni and cheese in the bathtub?” No.

Borrow Teachers Rock! from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

May #SharpSchu Book Club Meeting

Mr. Colby Sharp and I hope you will join us on May 19 to discuss The Secret Subway and Hilo: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth. "See" you then! :)