Thursday, November 10, 2011


John Schumacher (MrSchuReads) isn’t your average elementary school librarian. In fact, he was recently touted as a 2011 Library Journal Mover and Shaker for all the amazing work he does promoting children’s literature in and out of schools. When he isn’t at Brook Forest Elementary craftily getting kids into books, he’s blogging, Tweeting, or traveling the country to meet new characters and greet old favorites. His devotion and appreciation for children’s literature (and children themselves) is why Mr. Schu is our Featured Sweetheart!

TXS&S: You have an amazing web presence (two blogs and a VERY active Twitter account), on top of being a K-5 librarian AND traveling to publishing events throughout the country AND having a goal this year to read 2011 books!
How do you find the time?

JS: It is easy to juggle multiple roles when you love what you do. I feel passionately about libraries and literacy. I’ve always been an avid reader, but I’ve gotten better at managing my time and prioritizing.  I schedule reading time into every day. I read picture books, beginning readers, middle-grade fiction, graphic novels, and young adult fiction. I tend to read more picture books than any other format. I set up a general formula that works. My monthly goal is to read 150-200 picture books, 10-12 novels, and at least one young adult selection. I like to read in the morning before heading to school, and I always have two or three audio books in my car. Most importantly, I only watch television on Tuesday. :) 
I’m usually juggling 6-7 books (just look at my Goodreads “CURRENTLY READING” shelf.) If a book gets a lot of buzz, I’ll put the one I’m reading aside and start a new one. I jump from book to book.
Sadly, I neglect those “small” things like grocery shopping, dropping off dry cleaning, and other "fun" tasks. 

TXS&S: You’re a big proponent for innovation in publishing, even going so far as to teach students how to use QR codes to promote and learn about their favorite books. What’s next for you?

JS: My students are wild about Picture Book Month. They are connecting with schools in  Budapest, CaliforniaIllinois, IowaMassachusetts, MichiganMinnesota, and Wisconsin.
They will :
-discuss picture books via Skype
-communicate with their virtual friends through a Google Form
-motivate each other to read picture books
-serve as Ambassadors for Picture Book Month
-Skype with picture book authors
-write essays about the importance of picture books
-read, read, read, read, read, and read picture books
-participate in a bookmark exchange
-explore iPad storybook apps
-meet Kate Messner and Linda Urban

TXS&S: What are your top three technological ways (website, device, application, etc) that parents and kids can connect with books?

JS: 1. I teach a popular unit during which first graders explore characters and series websites. They try to outrun Babymouse’s locker, travel with Jack and Annie, and color with Charlie and Lola.
2. trailers. My blog is dedicated to them. Book trailers are one of my favorite ways to connect kids with books.
3. I have friends on Goodreads who share an account with their children. I love when families write reviews and reactions together.

TXS&S: What are your top three non-technological ways that parents and kids can connect with books?

JS: 1. A child should read with an adult at least twenty minutes a day. Richard Peck says it best, “Read to your children. Twenty minutes a day; You have the time, And so do they.”
2. Children need to see that authors are real people. Take your child to author and literacy events at local bookshops and public libraries. Sometimes this gives them the confidence they need to become active readers.
3. Model good reading behaviors.  Explore different formats, such as magazines, comic books, graphic novels, recipes, and newspapers. 

TXS&S: What aspect of your job is the most rewarding? The most challenging?

JS: The most rewarding aspect of my job is chatting with kids about books.  There’s nothing better than when a child stops you in the hall, or comes running into the library, shouting, “OH MY GOODNESS, MR. SCHU! YOU WERE RIGHT! THIS REALLY IS THE BEST BOOK EVER WRITTEN.” 
The most challenging part of my job is convincing parents and teachers that graphic novels are real books.  They are! Please respect readers.

TXS&S: Thanks so much, Mr. Schu! The world can always use more librarians like you. :-)


  1. Awesome interview! I agree with John, graphic novels are real books.

  2. Thanks so much for visiting, Colby, and thank you, John, for being our featured sweetheart!