Ryan T. Higgins Visits The Village

Yesterday, author/illustrator Ryan T. Higgins visited the students of Parma Elementary. It was a magical day.

We kicked off the day with a free breakfast for all Parma Elementary families. Our PTA purchased $1000 worth of Ryan’s books for us to give away to students. We gave each family that attended the breakfast a copy of one of Ryan’s books. It was a perfect start to our day. We had more than 200 people go through the breakfast line!

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Ryan did two assemblies in the morning. He was able to meet with 400+ students. Ryan is a captivating speaker. I think each and every child (and adult) left feeling inspired.

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One of my favorite parts of Ryan’s visit was when he created art in front of the kids. He had them give him a bunch of different animal suggestions, and then he mashed them together to create a new creature. My first grade daughter went back to her classroom and created a giraffe/hippo/penguin creature. Author visits inspire kids to create!

After the visit I interviewed Ryan for The Yarn, and Ryan and I did a Facebook Live video on the Nerdy Book Club channel FB page (below).

Harvey Visits Third Grade


This past week, my three week old son visited by third grade classroom. Watching 8 and 9 year-olds interact with an infant was pretty adorable. They all wanted to touch his head. How cute is that?

I got out my phone to capture the moment.

It felt like the entire class was gathered around my little guy, but that wasn’t the case. When I turned around I saw this.


A new baby isn’t for everyone. I love that this reader saw the buzz around the new baby as an opportunity to hog all of the mushroom chairs. These chairs are pretty popular in my classroom, so one kid laying on three of them would never fly under normal circumstances. This kid took advantage of the situation.

I love my readers!


10 Minute Review: I Dissent


The last several days my students have been working in narrative non-fiction. We’ve been reading a bunch of picture books: Here Come The Girl Scouts, On A Beam of Light, and Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? The unit has been going really well. My students love being introduced to remarkable people.

I decided that today’s book would be I Dissent: Ruth Badar Ginsburg Makes Her Mark. We gathered on the carpet, discussed the similarities and differences between narrative non-fiction and expository texts, and then I began to read.

From the very fist pages my students were captivated. They loved learning about Ruth’s childhood. We were really happy to see that Ruth’s mom took her to the library. My students were shocked to learn how unfair our country has been to women, and saddened to learn that we still have a long ways to go. I asked a couple of girls what they thought about earning less money than a boy doing the same job. I wish I was a good enough writer to capture their reaction. Their disgust. Their determination to make sure that isn’t the case.

I have two daughters of my own (8 and 6), and I cannot wait to share this book with them. My heart aches when it thinks of them being treated differently in this world than their brothers because of their gender. I’m thankful that people like Ruth Badar Ginsburg work to their world a better place, and I’m thankful for books like I Dissent spark conversations in classrooms and homes that just might help lead us to a better world.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Interview: Julie Segal Walters (COVER REVEAL)

Today I’m sharing a cover reveal for Julie Segal Walters’s debut picture book, THIS IS NOT A NORMAL ANIMAL BOOK, illustrated by Brian Biggs (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books). The book hits the shelves on October 17, 2017. As a special pre-sale promotion, all books purchased in advance through Julie’s local bookstore, Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C., will be signed by both Julie and Brian.

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Julie answers my 5 interview questions below, and check out Mr. Schu’s interview with Brian Biggs on his site.

5,4,3,2,1 Interview

  1. Can you tell us a little bit about THIS IS NOT A NORMAL ANIMAL BOOK?

As Brian Biggs masterfully illustrated on the jacket and case covers, the book is a meta-fiction power struggle between an author and illustrator over how to draw the animals in the book — a mammal, bird, amphibian, invertebrate, reptile, and fish. The author-illustrator conflict reaches its peak when the illustrator refuses to draw the author’s choice of fish. The story is based on a Yiddish proverb, and is a behind the scenes look at the picture book creation process, the importance of collaboration and compromise in the face of different opinions, and the beauty of both words and art. With a sprinkle of snark. (4)

2) What is the best part about being an author?

The best part about being a children’s book author is ALL THE THINGS! The books that were important to me as a child remain the most important books in my life, and I’ve rarely if ever had a relationship with a book the same way as an adult. It is a blessing to have the opportunity to create something with the goal that it will find a special place in a child’s life. Whether it’s sharing fun facts, or making kids laugh, or helping them feel connected or seen in the world, everything I write is with an eye toward whether the story will be important to a child. I have a life-long passion for children’s literature, and am grateful for the opportunity to live my passion and to work with a community of writers, artists, editors, agents, teachers, librarians, book sellers, and parents who all share a commitment to meaningful books for children. (5)

3) What is the hardest part about being an author?

I’m very social and love walking outside, so the hardest part for me is the amount of time I spend alone and sitting still at my desk. That and the waiting, because publishing requires so much waiting! (2)

4) If you could spend one day living in the world of a book, which book would you pick?

Today, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, so I could be in Dumbledore’s Army. (1)


5) What advice do you have for the young creators in my classroom?

My son is also a third grader so I’m regularly awed by the curiosity and creativity of 8 and 9 year old kids. My advice to your students is to read, read, read, read, read! Being a reader is essential to being a writer, and, if you read, you’ll find that books will be your friends for life. (3)


5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Interview Laura Shovan

The amazing Laura Shovan is joining the #SharpSchu Twitter Book Club tomorrow night. I hope you can join us. I adore Laura. Her writing is amazing, and she cares deeply for kids.


Laura agreed to answer a handful of my questions. Happy reading!

5,4,3,2,1 Interview

  1. Can you tell us a little bit about Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary?

 4: Imagine that it’s the first day of fifth grade. Finally – you’re the oldest and biggest kids at your school. You’re so excited about the year ahead … until you learn there’s a plan to close your school forever at the end of the year. What would you do?


  1. What is best part about being a book creator?

3: There are two best parts. The first is seeing the world I’m creating come to life over many, many drafts. The second is sharing the finished book with readers, especially kids.

  1. What’s the hardest part of being a book creator?

1: My first drafts are worse than the messiest, most disorganized bedroom you can imagine.

  1. If you could spend one day living in the world of a book, which book would you pick?

2: I love children’s fantasy – The Dark Is Rising series, the Narnia books, Harry Potter – but those worlds are too scary to actually live in. I’d pick the Spiderwick Chronicles, because the setting reminds me of my grandparents’ house in the English countryside.


  1. What advice do you have for the young creators in my classroom?

5: My best advice is borrowed from poetry. Jot down a lot of different ideas, poem starts, character sketches, beginnings of stories. When you have five or so, put your ideas away for a while, almost as if they’re taking a nap. When you bring those first drafts back out, you’ll know which ideas are eager to get out of bed and make something of themselves. That’s when the real work of crafting a poem or story begins.

10 Minute Review: The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, A Young Civil Rights Activist

Last week I read my third grade students Cynthia Levinson and Vanessa Brantley Newton’s The Youngest Marcher. At the end of each day we read a picture book, and I thought The Youngest Marcher would be a good one to share with my students. I had planned on finishing the book before the bell rang and the day ended. Our discussion around the book and Audrey Faye Hendricks’s story was so rich that the bell rang before we had even made it halfway through the book. We finished the book the next day. Our discussion day 2 was as powerful as it was the day we started the book.


The Youngest Marcher is the story of Audrey Faye Hendricks. Audrey was a child that grew up in the segregated south. She spent a week in a juvenile hall at 9 years old for marching with the Children’s Crusades. Audrey’s willingness to go to jail for what she believed in blew my students’ minds.


One of my favorite things about books like The Youngest Marcher, is learning about an amazing person that I didn’t know prior to reading the book. My students are well versed in people like Harriet Tubman, Abraham Lincoln, and Amelia Earhart. I feel that introducing them to heroes that might not be super famous helps them to dream big. It helps them to see that you don’t have to be Lebron James of Barak Obama to make a difference. If an 8 year old kids reads about a girl that was willing to go to jail for what she believed in, then maybe that 8 year old kid will one day make a choice that makes the world a better and safer place for others.

Trying to Not Obsess About Shiny Stickers

I spent most of 2012 completely obsessed with which book was going to win the Newbery Medal. It was out of control.

I think this video does a nice job of showing just how obsessed I was. The video ran the weekend before the 2013 Youth Media Awards.

As happy as I was that The One and Only Ivan won the Newbery Medal, that shiny sticker didn’t change how I felt about Ivan. I am glad it helped put Ivan in front of more readers. For that I am grateful.

I’m going to spend the next week trying hard not to obsess over which book I think is going to win shiny stickers, and instead focus on celebrating all the wonderful books people are creating for the kids in our homes, classrooms, and libraries.


5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Interview: Elly Swartz

A few weeks ago I FINALLY read Elly Swartz’s Finding Perfect. It seems like my friends have been raving out it forever, and I’m glad that I finally took their advice and read the book. Finding Perfect is awesome. If you haven’t read it, you should probably change that.

Elly was kind enough to answer a handful of my questions. You’ll find the interview below.


5,4,3,2,1 Interview

1. Can you tell us a little bit about Finding Perfect? (5)

To Molly Nathans, perfect is:

  • The number four
  • The tip of a newly sharpened number two pencil
  • A crisp, white pad of paper
  • Her neatly aligned glass animal figurines

What’s not perfect is Molly’s mother leaving the family to take a faraway job with the promise to return in one year. Molly hatches a plan to bring her mother home: Win the Lakeville Middle School Slam Poetry Contest. Complicating Molly’s plan, is that Molly has undiagnosed OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and as time goes on, writing and reciting slam poetry become harder. Actually, everything becomes harder as new habits appear, and counting, cleaning, and organizing are not enough to keep her world from spinning out-of-control.


2. What is best part about being an author?  (2)

Hands-down connecting with readers! Nothing makes my heart happier than hearing readers share their personal connections with Molly and her journey.

3. What’s the hardest part of being an author? (3)

Authenticity comes from fully embracing the emotion my character is experiencing as I write. So when that character is in a dark place, those moments are hard. When writing, Chapter 36, My Numbers are Showing, the mom part of me wanted to scoop in and hug Molly, but my writer side had to feel Molly’s despair and vulnerability, and allow her the space to discover her own strength.

4. If you could spend one day living in the world of a book, which book would you pick? (1)

Harold and the Purple Crayon, by Crockett Johnson.


5. What advice do you have for the young creators in my classroom? (4)

Dream big! Work hard! Follow your heart! And embrace the journey!


Curriculum Guide


Librarian and Educator Giveaway


Unfolding Identity Project


Finding Perfect Audio Trailer






Nerd Camp 2017 Authors and Illustrators

Below you will find the list of authors and illustrators that are attending Nerd Camp this coming summer. Each creator will be attending both days of camp, as well as Nerd Camp Junior.

You can find out more information about camp by clicking on our logo below.


last final for realz nerd camp logo

Logo created by Laurie Keller


Julia Kuo

Erin Soderberg

Gae Polisner

Ryan T. Higgins

Shelley Johannes


Alex Gino

Laurie Keller

Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

Jack Gantos

Caroline Starr Rose

Kristin Tubb

Laura Shovan

Molly Burnham

Erica Perl

Mike Lowery

Elana K. Arnold

Karuna Riazi

Jess Keating

Helen Frost

Deborah Freedman

Denise Flemming

Jerzy Drozd

Lauren Castillo

Barbara Dee

John David Anderson

Ammi Joan-Paquette

Elaine Vickers

Nora Baskin


Tracey Baptiste

Alan Katz

Anica Rissi


Shannon and Dean Hale

Lisa Mcmann

Lauren Eldridge

Dev Petty


Jenn Bishop

Sarah Albee

Donna Gephart

Melanie Conklin

Ruth McNally Barshaw

Abby Cooper

Jacqueline Davies

Larry Day

Kirby Larson

Daniel Nayeri

Carter Higgins

Aaron Zenz

Josh Funk

Liesl Shurtliff


Laurel Snyder

Debbie Ohi

Juana Medina

Ruth Spiro

Brooks Benjamin

Pat Zietlow Miller

Elly Swartz

Rich Lieder

Miriam Busch