WRITTEN BY ERIN THOMAS
On Friday, October 19th, I met one of my heroes: Mr. Schu. John Schu is a teacher-librarian extraordinaire and the Ambassador for School Libraries for Scholastic Book Fairs. I have been following Mr. Schu on Twitter since I first joined in 2012. Through him, I have discovered many other amazing advocates for books and reading. I was over the moon to hear him speak at MTS PD Day.
He started with asking us what story is. This May, he asked the question on Twitter, “How would you finish this sentence: Story is...? #storyis“. I recommend you check out the hashtag. Loads of wonderful interpretations of what story is!
Mr. Schu’s high energy style made the day fly past. He shared many book titles with us, but he shared more than just that. He shared his warmth, his compassion, his love of reading, and mostly, his love of sharing books. He told stories about students he knew and knew of—the little girl who lived in his former house and was still receiving boxes of books meant for him that she shared with others at her school, the boy who, all on his own, staged a protest outside his school to save school libraries when he heard that elementary libraries would be losing their teacher-librarians, the student who hugged his book so tightly, or the ones who looked so longingly at the books he brought to give away that Mr. Schu knew they needed the book. He had us singing to The Dot Day Song—complete with motions!—and reading picture books aloud with him.
One of the best things about the day were the books. He gave away many, many books to the people in the audience. I was lucky enough to receive one myself, a beautiful picture book named LOVE written by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Loren Long. I shared it with my class, and the picture they most talked about was the same one Mr. Schu said he was so happy was included—a big double page picture of a child under a piano. Read the book—you’ll find it.
He made us laugh when we read aloud YOU DO NOT WANT A UNICORN (by Ame Dyckman) and he made us cry when he talked about Amy Krouse Rosenthal, taken from us far too soon. The day was brilliant.
And as I hugged my copy of Love tightly to my chest, knowing that not only would I have chosen that book, but that book had chosen me, I thought again about the start of the day when Mr. Schu asked us to finish the sentence “Story is…”
And after some thought, I realized that story is the way we connect with one another.
About the Author: Erin Thomas is a writer, an award-winning poet, a member-at-large of RCGW, and a teacher-librarian. She has loved books since she was a little girl. She loves Kate DiCamillo and reads The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane to her students every year. When not reading or sharing books, Erin engages in her other passion, Manchester United Football Club.
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