Thanks a lot, Trixie’s Dad

willems_knuffle bunny too

…and the great Mo Willems, on Fathers’ Day, for creating dad characters who take care of their kids in a non-bumbling, matter-of-fact (if realistically exhausted and strung-out) sort of way. But, hey, also? As Megan Dowd Lambert points out: Cut it out with the nighttime bunny exchanges. You’re making the rest of us look bad. […]

There Is a Bird On Your Head!

thereisabird

Mo Willems has become THE master of easy readers. With pre-book work includes Sesame Street and animation, he had the perfect training to create child- and teacher-friendly easy readers. I think he deserves every one of his many awards. What do notice in this deceptively simple book? What does he do with simple shapes and […]

That Is NOT a Good Idea!

That is not a good idea

Those of you with children under the age of five are experts on Mo Willems — Knuffle Bunny, Elephant and Piggie, the Pigeon. This year’s must-have book for the Willems fan is That Is NOT a Good Idea! It’s a hilarious hybrid: part silent movie, part picture book; part cautionary tale, part inside joke. But […]

Why Books? — The Zena Sutherland Lecture

Mo Willems

It is an honor to have been asked to talk about books while they still exist. (Spoiler alert: next year’s Sutherland lecturer will be a downloadable app.)

And that, my friends, is the key to my current two-word existential dilemma: “Why books?”

In the past it was enough to say that if you get a book into a kid’s hands, you’re creating a “lifelong reader.” But why does that matter? Do we really want “lifelong readers”? Shouldn’t they at least get to take occasional bathroom breaks? Why is this extraneous question here in the middle of these other ones? And, what does reading do that makes it so special?