An Evening with Author/Illustrator DAV PILKEY


How does an evening with children’s author Dav Pilkey begin? (well,after waiting in a looooong line wrapping all the way around Headquarters library…)

Waiting for Captain Underpants

Waiting for Captain Underpants

With, of course, a loud “Tra-la-laaaa!” yelled in unison by all the kids (and many of the parents) in the audience. It’s Captain Underpants’ typical call to action.

I had the fun opportunity to be part of this attentive and rambunctious crowd last night at the St. Louis County Library’s Author Event, celebrating the release of CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE SENSATIONAL SAGA OF SIR STINKS-A-LOT. (# 12 in the series)

Screen Saver for Captain Underpants

Screen Saver for Captain Underpants



Dav Pilkey, who will have 60 books to his credit with 2016’s THE ADVENTURES OF DOG MAN, has revolutionized reading for boys especially. USA Today called him the “savior of the reluctant reader.” His short, graphic chapter books with their silliness, fast pace, and bathroom humor are a perfect fit for young readers. The kid-friendly author creates his tales based on his own elementary school experiences.

The Adventures of Dog Man

The Adventures of Dog Man

As a child who suffered from ADHD and dyslexia, he understood the power of pictures to tell a story. Even though he often found himself doing hallway detention for drawing in class, he couldn’t resist making more clever comics—to the delight of his fellow students and the dismay of his teachers.

“Underwear is not funny!” said Mr. Pilkey’s second grade teacher. “Grow up!” she cautioned him. “You can’t spend the rest of your life making silly books!”

Drawing favorite characters

Drawing favorite characters

Oh, how little she knew, and how very far Mr. Pilkey has enriched young readers with the delights of his underwear crew.

Some of his other titles include:

The Ricky Ricotta Series 

Dog Breath

Paper Boy

The Adventures of Ook and Gluk

Super Diaper Baby



Nowadays, the author prefers drawing in more natural spots, like along the beach in Japan when visiting his wife’s family. But even there, he still suffers criticism—from some monkeys that is. Mr. Pilkey shared a video of himself at work sketching, while several monkeys attempted to confiscate his pens and offer vocal commentary on his work-in-progress.

Dav Pilkey Attempts to Draw Despite Monkey Antics

Dav Pilkey Attempts to Draw Despite Monkey Antics




At the end of his presentation last night, Mr. Pilkey made a point about perseverance. He showed a picture of a scowling egg and a happy potato in boiling water. “Don’t let adversities overcome you,” he said. “Rather use them to build on. In boiling water, a potato softens but an egg becomes hard.”



Many young readers in the crowd wore red capes, similar to Captain Underpants. On back of the capes was the message, “Reading is Power!” Thanks, Mr. Pilkey, for enhancing children’s literature with your comic characters and delightful illustrations and proving that strong reading muscles really do rock!

An Alligator at Story Time

A very courageous librarian in Whitestone, New York–Susan Scatena at the Queens Library–promised eager summer readers that if they read at least 4,000 books she would read to a real life alligator. Well, close to 350 students signed up and read nearly 5,000 books, so Ms. Scatena did what she promised.

She read “There’s An Alligator Under My Bed” to five-foot Wally, a female alligator–and to hundreds of amazed children. Wally made no comment about the Mercer Mayer picture book, but she seemed mesmerized during the story time. A good book will do that to a reader.

I must admit that I’m much braver reading or writing a story ABOUT an alligator than actually reading TO one. But my hat is off to brave Ms. Scatena. She proved just how important children’s literacy is to her. Hopefully, you’ll be just as committed in helping the children you know–or yourself–be the best reader(s) possible.
The library–at your school or at the public library–is always a great place to start. There are so many choices of interesting, exciting, funny books that you can choose from. And I bet you can find a helpful librarian there as well.
Here’s to COURAGEOUS reading!

Book Giveaway & National Family Literacy Day

K. Dawn Byrd is featuring GIFTS FROM GOD at her blog this week. Stop by and leave a comment. You’ll have a chance to win a copy of the book. What a great way to celebrate NATIONAL FAMILY LITERACY DAY! The official day was last Tuesday, but everyday should be a family literacy event. Check out the website for lots of information on helping your child become a better reader and writer.

Picture Book Woes

THE NEW YORK TIMES printed a controversial article recently about the decline of picture books. The article presents children’s book publishers and booksellers who note the drop in sales and an acceleration of young children toward chapter books.

Librarians were quick to respond. An excellent blog on the topic can be found at EARLY WORD. Blogger, Lisa Von Drasek, notes the importance of picture books in the lives of children. Picture books provide young listeners an exposure to higher level vocabulary as well as visual literacy. For a list of great read-alouds, check out this site, as well as more info on my website:

Read Aloud Wonders

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Reading Aloud

Don’t give up on picture books! Reading would never be as fun without these colorful, clever, WONDERFUL books.

Scholastic Reading Survey

Scholastic recently released the results of a survey of children and parents on current reading trends. 86% of kids feel a sense of accomplishment after reading a book themselves. And while only 50% of kids consider reading enjoyable or important, 75% know they should read more.

The study also found that kids are drawn to electronic reading options. This information supports the growth of ebooks in children’s literature. But the study also concluded that other technology options–like texting and online fun–can use up reading time opportunities for students.

For wonderful ideas on helping your child become a reader, visit the READING IS FUNDAMENTAL website.
And for some additional ideas, check out my website as well.

Happy reading!

How to Get Boys to Read

In recent years this has become an ongoing educational issue: boys are falling behind girls in reading. This is a serious problem. Students who don’t read at grade level will not be able to succeed in school–or in the world.

A recent Wall Street Journal article presented interesting new information on this topic. A study conducted by Dr. Robert Weis of Denison University found that boys with video games available to them at home spent less time reading. It seems a rather simple and obvious finding, but it presents compelling evidence to the importance of limiting video play time. Instead, boys need easy and plentiful access to good reading material–which should be readily available through their school or local library.

Perhaps if parents spent more of their resources–time and money–on providing reading material for their sons and less on easy access to video games, there would be no literacy gender gap.

Raising a Reader

It is always a mission of mine to stress the importance of reading to, with, and by children to help them be successful in school and in life. RAISING A READER is a national nonprofit organization whose goal is the same, and it is meeting with great success in locations across the U. S.

One such location is the Seattle Public Library, where young readers experience the joys of reading and libraries.

My hat is off to Raising A Reader and all the libraries across the U.S. who have helped make summer reading possible for so many children!

More on Reading–Of Course

When I worked as a school librarian, we had Accelerated Reader for the students to use. This program certainly increased the amount the students were reading, helped them expand the genre of books they tried, and helped access their reading comprehension.

With that said, the program did have its problems. The ones I encountered included incorrect assessment of student’s reading level, consistency with the levels assigned to the books, students competing against one another rather than challenging themselves, or students pressured to achieve with little supplemental help from faculty or parents.
As a child’s literacy advocate, I am intrigued with a new reading approach from educator, Laura Candler. Ms. Candler has experience with the Accelerated Reader program but has devised her own reading strategy for students which she says works even better. It’s called EMPOWERING READERS. You can become part of her ongoing discussion group focusing on these reading strategies. And you can take a preview of the Ms. Candler’s work in progress to see if her reading strategies could work in your class or homeschool environment.
The preview is intriguing. And there is nothing I love better than to see children caught up in the reading adventure. You might want to take a look and see what you think. Would a reading workshop work in your class?