Helping your child learn how to read definitely requires some patience…
However, once they reach second grade, AR quizzes begin and they are expected to say goodbye to Dr. Seuss and hello to easy chapter books. Back when my older daughter was little…
She heard the words “chapter books” and came home with these!
Just a few weeks before, my child couldn’t even read the word “forget.” There is no possible way she could read or understand the complex words in those books. I needed to help her find a book that was just right. A book that she was actually reading and not pretending to read.
We tried SO MANY easy chapter series books…
None of them were good enough. She still hated to read. How was I going to get her to read 25 books in a school year for those AR quizzes??? So I asked her, “What kind of book do you WANT to read?” She wanted to read a “weird” book!
They were perfectly weird!!!
She loved them and read every singe book in that series. To this day, she has developed a love for reading from these books and I am forever grateful to Dan Gutman for writing them.
I had the great pleasure of interviewing Dan last week to talk about his imagination! Dan Gutman is a freelance children’s book author, who has published over 120 books. He LOVES to write fact based fiction!
I thought to myself…Since Dan writes fact based fiction, was he inspired by his own “weird” childhood school when he wrote the My Weird School series?
“I got the idea for the My Weird School series when my daughter Emma was in second grade. She was really enjoying the Junie B. Jones books, and I wanted to try a series for that age group. I thought it would be cool if there was something like Junie B. Jones told by a boy. Most of the books in Weird School, you may have noticed are dedicated to Emma. The first title Miss Daisy is Crazy came from the old song Tutti Fruiti….had a gal named Daisy, she almost drove me crazy.”
Dan has written SO MANY books, but what is his FAVORITE book?
Dan Gutman loves his book Johnny Hangtime! “It is the story about a boy who is a Hollywood stunt man. He’s always jumping out of windows and having himself set of fire…I like to take an ordinary kid and put that kid into extraordinary situations.”
Dan loves his job! “I have the freedom to work at home, to write what I want, and to go on vacation when I want…” Dan loves getting emails from parents, teachers and librarians, telling him about the kids who develop a love for reading from his books!
What is Dan’s greatest moment of his career so far?
(Caution for viewers…explicit words in video)
“It happened just a few weeks ago. On his HBO show, John Oliver spent five minutes talking about my book The Kid Who Ran for President. The book is nearly 20 years old and had pretty much stopped selling…within 24 hours, it was one of the best selling books in America! Very exciting!” I remember reading your post and jumping up and down for you, Dan! SO awesome!
So, how did Dan get started in this career of writing books for children?
When Dan was little, he loved to learn by reading non-fiction. All that reading gave him to tools to create his children’s books! Dan went to college and studied Psychology, but it just didn’t feel like the right choice. He started writing when he was 25 years old.
“I always enjoyed writing letters to my friends, so I just decided to start writing.”
Dan tried several different styles of writing, such as newspaper articles, magazine articles, screenplays and non-fiction for adults. Nothing felt right…
“Then, my son Sam was born in 1990 and I started reading children’s books for the first time since I was a kid. I decided to try writing for kids. And as soon as I did, I felt, THIS is what I am good at! THIS is what I should have been doing all along! So, I switched to writing for kids.”
Dan Gutman has two children…Sam is now 26 and Emma is 21. “Sometimes we would sit on the front porch of the house and I would challenge them to guess the color of the next car to drive down the street. It got very competitive!”
It got me thinking, what would Dan play when he was little?
Sometimes he liked to pretend he was a dog sitting under the table, but mostly Dan loved playing Little League baseball! Now I completely understand why baseball loving kids everywhere love his Baseball Card Adventure Series. He poured his own love for baseball into those books! While we don’t have baseball fans in our house (we are a hockey family…go Sabres), I have heard amazing things about this baseball series. Be sure you check it out, if you have a Little League player of your very own!
Which leads me to this question…
Why on earth did I create a silly portrait of Dan Gutman playing baseball with a dinosaur?
As you probably already know, I am a wish granting digital artist and soon-to-be children’s book author, who captures the imagination of little dreamers worldwide by giving them the dream pet they have always wanted.
I asked Dan, “When you were a child, if you could have any animal in the world, what would your dream pet be?”
Dan wasn’t really into animals. His childhood dreams were “to be a rock and roll star or a professional baseball player.” If he were to pick a dream pet today, it would have to be Rappy the Raptor, which is a picture book he wrote about a rapping dinosaur! Dan’s newest Rappy book Rappy Goes To School just came out in June! He would definitely want to play baseball with Rappy!
Enjoy your afternoon of baseball, Dan! Thank you so much for speaking with me! I love your imagination!!!
Here are the books I have mentioned…
What is your favorite Dan Gutman book?
Let us know what makes you smile!
Blog Images: Baseball picture from Julie McGann Fine Art Portraits, Dan‘s Book Covers from Amazon, Dan’s pictures from Amazon and his Personal Collection, Stock Images from Camelfobia and various personal stock
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