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Capturing Kid's Hearts And Minds

Capturing Kid's Hearts And MindsCombining a talent for narrative and enthusiasm for the “things kids are interested in,” Tufts graduate Robert Munsch has become one of the world’s most beloved children’s authors. Guelph, Ontario.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [05.09.03] Robert Munsch always had a passion for storytelling. While working at a daycare center, the Tufts graduate realized that children would be quiet and behave if he told them stories. Now, as one of Canada's all-time best selling children's authors, Munsch has more than 40 million readers who are willing to listen.

"Kids around the world love Robert Munsch's stories of rebellion against bedtime, snowsuits, health food and other banes of childhood," reported The Canadian Press. "The tales are quirky and heartwarming, honed during numerous storytelling sessions with kids before any words ever reach the pages of his books, which now number 42 - and counting."

Munsch - who earned a masters degree in education at Tufts' Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development - says that much of his success in children's writing comes from his willingness to explore things that kids, not adults, are interested in.

"I assume children are a strange, alien culture that I do not understand," Munsch told The Vancouver Province. "I have to know what they are up to if I want to communicate with them."

Working at a pace of two books per year, Munsch says that he has a different strategy for approaching his stories than many children's authors.

"A lot of adults write relentlessly happy books about childhood," Munsch told the Press. "And little kids find them hard to deal with."

Now with over 40 titles -- which include Mud Puddle, Mortimer, and ZOOM! - kids all over the world are reading books by an author committed to presenting realistic perspective based on his own childhood experience.

"I used to get upset when people said I was a pretty happy kid," the Tufts graduate told the Press. "I remember being a little kid and looking in the mirror and saying, ‘I want to remember that I was not happy.' And I think that has helped my writing."

Munsch -- who said he studied for seven years to be a Jesuit priest "only to find that I was lousy priest material" - told the Province that storytelling came naturally to him. While working at an orphanage during college he found himself creating tales of fantasy, peer pressure and other childhood woes to tell to kids.

"I discovered I could get the kids to shut up during nap time by telling them stories," he told the Province. "For 10 years I did this without thinking I had any special skill."

After an employer encouraged him to publish - and gave him two months leave to do so - Munsch finally began writing his stories on paper. Since Mud Puddle, his first book, was published in 1979, he has gone on to write some of the most well loved kid's books in North America. Love You Forever, originally published in 1988, has gone on to sell 17 million copies and is a favorite on children's shelves all over the world.

The Tufts graduate - who enjoys making school visits and meeting his young readers - takes a modest view about his gifts in writing for children.

"There are a lot of things I don't have the skills to be and it would be stupid to try to develop them," Munsch told the Province. "A lot of life is figuring out what you're good at."


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