World Read Aloud Day 2020

Today is World Read Aloud Day, a day in which we are encouraged to celebrate the benefits and joys of reading aloud to one another. I spent the day reading with kids all over the country (thanks to the magic of Google Hangouts and Skype!). This morning, before things got underway, I created this comic about just SOME of the benefits of reading aloud to kids.

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You can neither be too young nor too old to benefit from (and enjoy!) being read to. It has been shown that infants just days old can benefit from being read to, and surely you know plenty of adults who enjoy (or are maybe even OBSESSED with) audiobooks. And those doing the reading aloud benefit too. For instance, it has been shown that kids can gain reading confidence and improve their skills even by reading to their dogs and cats! (Go on social media and search the hashtags #ReadToYourDogman and #ReadToYourCatkid, launched by the wonderful Dav Pilkey, to learn some more about this and see some heartwarming photos.)

How are you celebrating World Read Aloud Day? I hope it’s by reading and/or being read to!

~ Jarrett

Yes, EVEN MORE T-Shirts!

I’ve recently been sharing a whole bunch of new free, downloadable, printable drawings on social media — all of which you can find on the Art page of this site. One of those drawings was this one:

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A number of people suggestively mentioned that they’d be interested in WEARING such a drawing (like, on a T-shirt…), so I worked with Custom Ink to launch another fundraiser.

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Once again, proceeds from this fundraiser will be put towards kids’ book access efforts.

Thank you, as always, for the amazing support!

~ Jarrett

#KidsNeedBooks of All Kinds — Spanish Edition Fundraiser!

Last week, a third-grade teacher in a Spanish immersion school asked me if I’d ever consider making a Spanish language version of my Kids Need Books of all Kinds art. I thought it was a fantastic idea, and as soon as she assured me I had the right translation (!), I whipped it up.

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(And, by the way, you can now download a free, print-ready copy of that art here.)

Not long after I put the new art up on social media, people started asking whether they’d be a new, Spanish edition sale of T-shirts, too. I said that if there was sufficient interest, I’d work with Custom Ink to set up a new, Spanish edition fundraiser (Custom Ink requires a certain number of sales before shirts can print, so I needed to make sure). Well, the interest was more than sufficient. And so, here you go!

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The #KidsNeedBooks of all Kinds Spanish Edition T-shirt is now available! You can order it here. Thank you, thank you — a billion times over — to all who have shared and supported these efforts of mine. Together, we have raised over $23,000 to help eradicate book deserts and help get books into the hands of kids who need them most.

~ Jarrett

#KidsNeedMentors: Year 2!

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Once again, Kristen Picone, Kristin Crouch, and I spent a chunk of our summer poring over spreadsheets and playing matchmaker for hundreds of educators, librarians, authors, and illustrators for the second installment of the #KidsNeedMentors program. It was A LOT of work, and we’re not even quite done yet. But I think it’s safe to say I speak for Kristen and Kristin when I say that this is some of the most rewarding work we do. Getting to see the outcome of these partnerships — all the amazing, creative work they do together to benefit the kids — is tremendously satisfying, uplifting, and inspiring. If you want to see some of that stuff for yourself, I suggest you head over to Twitter or Instagram and search the #KidsNeedMentors hashtag. If you scroll back in time, you can see some of the awesomeness that occurred during last school year.

I’ll be sharing more about the program and the wonderful participants throughout the year, but now, at the outset, I’d like to highlight a couple of cool things:

— Last year, our creator list was mostly filled with authors from the United States. This year, we’ve got a whole bunch of illustrators, author-illustrators, comic book-markers, and graphic novelists. We also have lots of creators from Canada, and others who are in Australia, the Netherlands, Germany, South Korea, Austria, the Philippines, and the UK. We’ve also got educators and librarians in Zambia and Cambodia!

— My pairing for this year is Ms. Tilden’s 4th grade class at Brown School in Natick, Massachusetts. Now, the town of Natick is right next to Wayland — and that’s where I grew up. It’s where I made my very first comic books and wrote my very first short stories. It’s where I fell in love with books and reading. Meaning that, when I go to visit Ms. Tilden’s students, we’ll all be just a handful of miles from where, when I was their age, I was first beginning to dream of doing what I’m doing now. Pretty cool.

If you want to learn more about the #KidsNeedMentors program, click here for a blog post I did about it at the start of last year, and click here for an interview I did about it over on the From the Mixed Up Files of Middle Grade Authors blog. Also, once again, you can always search the hashtag!

~ Jarrett

MORE #KidsNeedBooks of All Kinds T-Shirts!

You asked for it, so here it is: another chance to get a #KidsNeedBooks of All Kinds shirt. And look — new colors!

The original fundraiser only lasted two weeks, and many people either missed the deadline or couldn’t make a purchase during that time. Many people also expressed an interest in having some other color options. So, I worked with CustomInk to (a) re-launch a second, longer fundraiser and (b) add some new color options to the mix! As you can see below (and also on the fundraising page itself), there is now a black with white ink option, a military green option, a light pink with dark pink ink option, and an orange with white ink option.

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The landing page for the fundraiser is the same as last time — you can click here to access it. One thing, however, that is a little bit different about this fundraiser: instead of all the funds going directly to First Book, a portion will go to them and a portion will be reserved for book donations to other school in need that do not qualify for First Book.

Once again, a big, huge, gigantic THANK YOU to everyone who has supported and/or shared the last fundraiser, and a big, huge, gigantic THANK YOU in advance to everyone who supports and/or shares this one. I am excited to learn more from First Book about exactly where the funds raised last round are going, and am excited to put whatever is raised this round toward getting more books into the hands of kids.

Oh! And if you already have a shirt (lots of people got theirs today!), don’t forget to post a #ShowMeYourShirt pic to enter to win some signed books and custom artwork!

~ Jarrett

#ShowMeYourShirt

If you purchased one of my #KidsNeedBooks of All Kinds T-shirts, then you might’ve received an email from CustomInk earlier this morning letting you know that your shirt has shipped and is on its way to you (if you did not receive the email, you should within a couple days)! Hopefully you’re excited, because I’m excited, and FirstBook is excited too. They are so excited, in fact, they want to see you in your shirt! They asked me to help launch a #ShowMeYourShirt campaign.

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Please note that the handle mentioned above is FirstBook’s Twitter handle. Their Instagram handle is @FirstBookOrg.

Taking part is as simple as putting on your shirt, snapping a pic, and posting it! Just make sure to tag me and FirstBook, and to use the #ShowMeYourShirt hashtag somewhere in your tweet or Instagram post. But wait, there’s more — one lucky #ShowMeYourShirt poster will win some signed books and custom artwork by me!

Thank you all again for your celebration of my art and your support of FirstBook. And if you didn’t get a chance to purchase a T-shirt and want one, I’ll have news in the coming days about how you can get one!

~ Jarrett

First Drafts Are…

Before I visit a school, I always ask educators and administrators if there is anything in particular that they want me to share or discuss during my time with their students. Pretty much 100% of the time, they ask me to talk about revision — the importance of it and the reality of it, even for so-called “professional” authors and illustrators. Because, as a kid, I was under the impression that authors and illustrators always got it “right” on the first try, I already spent a lot of time during my presentations talking about revision. But during one visit a year or so ago, I had this thought — that I am just one person telling these kids about how writers should really be called “revisers,” because that’s mostly what we do, and about how every illustration you see in a book is the product of hours and hours and hours of work, of countless attempts. What if, after spending the day with me, the kids thought, “Well, that’s just how it is for that guy. But every other author and illustrator must get it right on the first try.”

How could I make sure this wasn’t the case? I got my pals to help me out! I asked kid lit authors to describe their first drafts for me using just one word. The responses were wonderful — and, of course, not a single creator said “perfect” or “polished” or “awesome” or “complete” or anything even remotely close to that. Frankly, the majority of respondents used the word “poop” (or some variation of it…). To share this information with kids, I made a quick drawing in my sketchbook, illustrating the words to make them more fun. This morning, I made a digital version of that drawing, so that educators could download a clean copy and use it as they wish.

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Seeing this graphic, kids are always blown away — and, once they get over the fact that they are looking at the word “POOP” on a big screen, they feel encouraged and inspired to get back to their notebooks and sketchbooks and make some creative mistakes. Thank you to all the creators who responded to my original tweet all those months ago! To download a free copy of the graphic (and a number of others), head over to my Art page.

~ Jarrett