(Very Eventually) The Zena Sutherland Lecture


Dear Readers, This particular version of my Zena Sutherland Lecture is a fabrication or, at best, a fabulation. Either way it is entirely false. Yes, I did give the Zena Sutherland Lecture at the Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago on May 1, 2015, but it was not as properly cured and marbled as this […]

Jack and Hazel


WHY I have to go to Chicago to see Jack Gantos when he lives only a mile away from my office is a question I’ll happily ignore to hear his Zena Sutherland Lecture at the Chicago Public Library tomorrow night. Join us if you can; otherwise you can read Jack’s speech in the Horn Book this […]

2015 Zena Sutherland Lecture by Jack Gantos


Please join us for the 2015 Zena Sutherland Lecture, “A Pair of Jacks to Open,” with Jack Gantos. Friday May 1, Harold Washington Library in Chicago, 7:30PM. The lecture is free but tickets are required.

Does YA Mean Anything Anymore?: Genre in a Digitized World – The Zena Sutherland Lecture

The Fault in our Stars

When we look to the astonishing growth of children’s books — especially YA books — in the last twenty years, we like to credit individuals — J. K. Rowling, for instance. But while it’s a kind of national obligation in the United States to praise individuals over collectives, I want to argue tonight that making […]

What are YOU looking at?


As I prepare for tomorrow’s Sutherland Lecture by John Green (and don’t think about showing up without a ticket. And don’t even think about getting a ticket) I’m catching up on the two controversies that John has found himself caught up in. The fault for either might be in his stars but definitely not in […]

A true Dutch treat


I hope you jumped on those Sutherland Lecture tickets yesterday because they are gone baby gone–I understand that even the waiting list is full. A big fan of John Green’s books, I am nevertheless nervous about being in an auditorium filled with John Green Girls, beautiful, complicated and ka-razy creatures that they are. Or do […]

John Green Sutherland lecture

Tickets are now available for the 2014 Zena Sutherland Lecture by John Green. Friday, May 2, 7:30 PM at the Harold Washington Library Center in sweet home Chicago. Admission is free but tickets are required, and only two to a customer. Get em now if you want to go and I’ll see you there.

2013 Zena Sutherland Lecturer Linda Sue Park

Zena Sutherland 2013 Flyer

 Linda Sue Park is delivering the 2013 Zena Sutherland Lecture on May 3rd at the Harold Washington Center, Chicago Public Library. Admission is free but reservations are required; go to zenasutherland.eventbrite.com to sign up. I’ll be there and hope you will be too!

Gaiman in Chicago


This isn’t quite like the time Sammy Davis, Jr. landed one on Archie Bunker, but it’s close.  Neil Gaiman’s Sutherland Lecture–“What the @#$%&*! Is a Children’s Book, Anyway?”– was a big sold-out success, and we’ll be bringing it to you this fall in the Horn Book Magazine. Meanwhile, I thought I would share my introduction. […]

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?