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Get to Know the 2012 Annual Convention Authors: Peter H. Reynolds

 | Apr 12, 2012

The Dot, I'm Here, and Ish author and illustrator Peter H. Reynolds is the featured speaker for the Primary Literature Luncheon sponsored by Simon and Schuster on Monday, April 30, at the IRA Annual Convention in Chicago. Below are his insights about the links between reading and creating to help kids "make their marks." 

Peter H. ReynoldsReading Today: If creativity is the fuel for getting things going, how can today¹s youngsters tank up in ways that enhance their literacy learning?

Peter H. Reynolds: It's critical to show kids how inspiring it is to create. Real literacy is not just reading stories, but writing (or marking), talking, and listening. Kids are actually game for all four. I like expanding writing to "making marks"--such as drawing, photography, and the other expressive arts. Like writing, these "marks" are ways of communicating ideas. The best way to fill the creativity fuel tank is by CREATING. I love challenging kids to think about how much time they spend consuming vs. creating. You can download music, or you can make it yourself. The joy of making something out of nothing, is nothing short of magic. The feeling is incredible. Sharing your "marks" with the world, while not a requirement--inspires others to do the same--creating a never-ending circle of perpetual creativity!

RT: You doodle your way to images that are the starting point for stories, animations, and paintings. What drives your initial spark of creativity?

PHR: My brain is always moving and my pencil tries its best to keep up. I have what I call "story radar" which is always on. I often can "hear" the story radar sounding when my brain senses a story idea. It can be triggered by a conversation, an image, a dream. I quickly make a sketch and label it so that I don't forget the seed of the idea. Later, I review my notebook and there is the beginning of a story. I have over 400 stories in the hopper. Each story contains a bit of wisdom, a notion, a solution, or a new way to look at the world. I want my stories to make people think, scratch their heads, connect, react and be moved to do something, whether it is be moved to tears, to laughter of to be moved to action. Ultimately, it is mission of the story that sparks me. 

RT: What makes The Dot so special, what do you want children and teachers to know about your inspiration for this book?

PHR: Thanks for saying so. The Dot is a very special book for me as it carries with it my mission to remind all of us to be brave--no matter what our inner voice of doubt might be whispering. I want to shout to the kids of the world--do NOT give up! Do NOT fear trying! Keep experimenting, playing, exploring, practicing, sharing. Each time you do, your confidence will grow and your true voice will show! While I hoped The Dot would be an enjoyable read, the goal was that the most exciting part of the book was after you closed it. I wanted the book to spark the reader to make their own mark--through art, music, science, innovation, community service, or anyway that moves the world to a better, more thoughtful and caring place.

RT: What's in store for people who come to hear you at the IRA Convention?

PHR: I love IRA. I have attended many IRA conferences over the past two decades. It will be an honor to share my stories, my films, my world view, and my mission with IRA attendees. I am hoping to find like-minded, kindred spirits who believe the best is yet to come. I want my audiences to be prepared to take away creative strategies and inspiration that can apply immediately to the kids they work with, as well as themselves, and their communities. Expect a warm, whimsical style, sprinkled with story and humor. I remind all of us that if we are to inspire children to create, we must model that. If we are to inspire children to learn, we must show them what that looks like. If we are to inspire children to be brave, we must show them our fearless selves. If we want our children to make a difference, we must show them how to make our mark--how to move the world to a better place.

Visit for details about Reynolds' work. For more information about the 2012 IRA Annual Convention in Chicago from April 29 to May 2, visit

Peter H. Reynolds Will Be There…Will You?

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