Robert Munsch, Canada’s beloved children’s writer and best-selling Canadian author, has once again agreed to be Honorary Chair of ABC CANADA Family Literacy Day(TM), January 27, 2006. “We’re delighted, ” says Christine Featherstone, President and CEO of ABC CANADA,
“and this year, we have a special treat — Robert will visit a lucky family somewhere in Canada for their Family Literacy Day(TM) party on January 23 to kick off the week in which Family Literacy Day(TM) falls.”
The deadline for families getting applications in is fast approaching. All applications must be submitted by December 9. For details, and for application forms, please go to www.abc-canada.org.
Robert also agreed to answer a few interesting questions about his writing, his love for books, his favourite author and recipe, how people in his life have influenced his stories, and why he supports Family Literacy Day(TM) in a Moment with Munsch just below.
A Moment with Munsch
Q: What should parents do to encourage children to read?
A: First, turn off the TV for an hour everyday and read together. And
make sure you have lots of books around. But make it fun. It shouldn’t
be like homework. Make reading entertaining – make funny sounds and
act it out together – kids really like that! Also, find books that
appeal to whatever your child is currently interested in. If they like
trucks – read about trucks. And do other things together that
encourage using words – singing, looking up stuff on the Internet,
cooking together. REMEMBER: If your kids never see you reading, they
will probably not think that reading is neat.
Q: What do you do to help the literacy cause?
A: Mostly I write my books. I also travel around and do storytelling at
schools (I have visited about 500 schools so far) so kids get
interested in stories and then I hope they will go to the library and
find my books and other books that will interest them. I am always
really touched when parents contact me and say their child started
reading because of a book I wrote. The child had the parents read the
books many times and then eventually started reading it themselves.
This is one of the great things about being an author for children. I
am also the Honorary Chair of ABC CANADA Family Literacy Day(TM) so I
am helping ABC CANADA spread the word about the importance of everyone
in Canada being able to read, write and do math.
Q: What inspires you to write your books?
A: I get my inspiration from kids, looking at them, seeing what they do
and hearing the funny things they say. Most books I have written have
been inspired by one particular child and its experience. For example,
Dirty Socks is about Tina Fabian from the Hay River Dene Reserve in
the North West Territories and my book for Spring 2005, Sandcastle
Contest, was inspired by Matthew Luttman who lives on my street.
Because it takes me a long time to get the story into the shape I want
it, these kids are often grown up before their story gets made into a
Q: Of all the books your have written – which is your favourite one?
A: That’s hard to say. I really like a couple. Love You Forever is one of
my favourites because I wrote it after my wife and I had two stillborn
babies and it’s like a memorial to them. I also really like I Have to
Go, which is a story about the kid who goes pee at all the wrong
times, because it’s just silly. I think Mortimer is the funniest book
I have ever written and if I was going to be in one of my stories,
that’s the one I would want to be in.
Q: What was the first book you ever had published and was it hard to get
your first book published?
A: My first published book was Mud Puddle. It did not take me a long time
to get published because I had lots of stories that I had been
telling. I wrote down 10 of them and sent them to 10 different
publishers. Nine said “NO” and one said “YES”.
Q: This year for ABC CANADA Family Literacy Day(TM) a number of well
known chefs have donated special FLD recipes. What is your favourite
food and why?
A: My favourite food changes a lot. The recipe I like best right now is
Beef Vindaloo, which is an Indian Dish. You can get the recipe on the
ABC CANADA website.
Q: Do you like to cook? If you were a chef, what would you prepare
especially for children?
A: I do like to cook and for kids I like to make macaroni and cheese, but
I make it with real cheese and not from a box.
Q: When your children were younger, what did they like to eat and what
did they really dislike?
A: My kids liked spaghetti and steak and french bread. They did not like
venison (deer meat) or moose meat.
Q: Speaking of your children, do you have any books written just for
A: Yes, I have three books based on my own kids. Andrew’s Loose Tooth is
for my son Andrew because he hated having his teeth pulled, Makeup
Mess is for my daughter Julie because she really, really liked makeup
and Something Good is for my daughter Tyya because we always fought
about what to get when we went grocery shopping.
Q: Are you in any of your books?
A: Yes, I have been the dad in some of the books. One of the illustrators
I work with most, Michael Martchenko, has drawn me as the dad in some
of my books.
Q: You seem to work with Michael Martchenko a lot. Do you have a special
working relationship with him?
A: Michael and I are friends and we work really well together.
Q: How many books do you have in print?
A: By the fall of 2005, I will have 47 books in print. My latest books in
print are Sandcastle Contest and I’m So Embarrassed, but I have many
unpublished stories (about 200) and I don’t finish most of my stories.
Only about one in ten gets done.
Q: Who was your favourite author when you were a child?
A: I loved Dr. Seuss and I really liked The Five Hundred Hats of
Bartholomew Cubbins. Dr Seuss was a real inspiration to me – he was my
Q: What is your most famous book?
A: It’s called Love You Forever. It’s sold about 18 million copies. So
many people have written to me to tell me how much they like it and
that it makes them cry – especially mothers.
Q: You’re a children’s author but do you feel your books have a more
A: I think so. Lots of older people, especially mothers, have copies of
Love You Forever and I get mail from people telling me they still love
my books even though they are grown up. I did a guest chat online at
ytv.com for ABC CANADA Family Literacy Day(TM) last year, and I had a
16-year-old write in to tell me that she loved my books and said it
was my fault that she loved reading so much! That’s a really good
problem to have caused someone. And my father, who is 93, really likes
Q: How long does it take you to write a book?
A: About five years. That’s because I tell it until it gets to the point
where I think it’s worth writing down.
Q: So which book did you have the most trouble writing?
A: Moira’s Birthday because the editor kept wanting to change it.