We Say “Thank You!” to Laurie Keller!
by Alana Pedalino
Read this lighthearted Scholastic Book Clubs–exclusive interview with children’s book author-illustrator Laurie Keller to your students for a behind-the-scenes look into the kindness that inspired Do Unto Otters: A Book About Manners.
It’s not surprising to learn that the creator of Do Unto Otters: A Book About Manners has pretty great manners herself!
In this interview, Laurie Keller was kind enough to share her thoughts on kindness. Read it with your students to encourage them to think about how they can be kind to their classmates (and teachers!) this school year.
What’s the last neighborly thing that you did?
I closed the windows while practicing my banjo. Ha! And I hauled my neighbor’s trash can and recycle bin up his driveway when he was out of town for a few days.
How do you welcome new neighbors?
Well, we’re the newest of any neighbors, so I haven’t had the chance to do much welcoming of new neighbors yet. When we moved in, our nice neighbor brought us a basket full of treats, and it was so unexpected and wonderful. If I get a new neighbor, I’ll definitely pay it forward!
What is the most impactful feedback you’ve heard about Do Unto Otters?
I’ve been so surprised at how many schools use Do Unto Otters to kick off the year! Occasionally I’ll hear that the principal of a school will read it to every single class. It means so much to me that the book has resonated with teachers and librarians enough that they want to share it with their students to promote kindness and social skills.
Please finish this sentence: An act of kindness a day…
...keeps going and going a very long way! Kindness is definitely contagious, and it makes you feel good to do something nice for someone else.
Why is teaching kids kindness important?
It seems like most kids are naturally kind, but unfortunately, sometimes peer pressure makes them engage in things like gossiping, teasing, and bullying. We all need reminders to be more thoughtful from time to time, but when kids learn empathy and kindness at a young age, it becomes second nature. I remind kids at school visits about how some nice thing they might do for someone––even just smiling and saying hello—could really make a positive difference in someone’s life.
How can kids practice kindness going into this school year?
It’s always fun to get back to school and see your friends, but I think a nice thing to do would be to seek out “the new kid” and make him or her feel welcome (my best friend and I always made it our mission to do that). If there aren’t any new kids, maybe strike up a conversation with someone they’ve never talked to before. Taking time to get to know new people helps us appreciate each other’s differences, and that definitely makes the world a kinder place!
Are your students inspired by hearing from Laurie Keller? Did they come up with any thoughtful ways to be a good friend? We’d love to hear from you! Share with us on social media using the hashtag #ScholasticBookClubs.
Laurie Keller is the bestselling author-illustrator of many books for kids, including Do Unto Otters; Potato Pants!; The Scrambled States of America; the Geisel Award–winning We Are Growing!; Open Wide: Tooth School Inside; and Arnie the Doughnut and three books in the Adventures of Arnie the Doughnut chapter-book series.
Growing up in Michigan, Laurie always loved to draw, paint, and write stories. She earned a BFA at Kendall College of Art and Design, then worked at Hallmark Cards in Kansas City as a greeting card illustrator for seven years. One night, the idea for a children’s book popped into her head, and after showing the story to several publishers in New York City, she quit her job and moved there. The following year, that story idea was a published book—The Scrambled States of America. Laurie loved living in NYC, but she returned to her home state, where she lives in the woods along the shores of Lake Michigan. Find out more at lauriekeller.com.
This Book Is Available from Scholastic Book Clubs