by Judy Newman
I attended a Scholastic management offsite meeting this week. Sometimes meetings like this are a chore, but every aspect of this meeting was truly exceptional! I think part of the reason is that everyone there—all of Scholastic’s management team—is committed to making sure all teachers can help every one of their students get access to wonderful books to develop their literacy. Our common mission as a company, and our personal and professional dedication as leaders who work at Scholastic, showed up in a profound way.
At our Sunday dinner, the night before the meeting began, one of the professional consultants remembered how when she was in second grade in Iowa, she wrote a letter to Norman Bridwell, the creator of Clifford the Big Red Dog. She explained her ideas for more Clifford stories, including her suggestion for a story called “Clifford Goes to the Drive-In Movie Theater.” And Norman Bridwell wrote back! Decades later, this professional colleague’s face burst into a huge, fond smile as she recalled how Norman responded to her letter and remembered how her teacher asked her to share the letter with her fellow second graders.
At Scholastic Book Clubs, we receive and route thousands of letters from children to authors each year. Many of our favorite authors love hearing from their readers and put careful time and attention into their responses. On our team, we dedicate members of our staff’s time and care to make sure every child’s letter gets the appropriate attention.
As she does with so many significant moments in childhood, Beverly Cleary captures the power of an author connecting with a reader in her beloved Newbery Medal winner, Dear Mr. Henshaw, which I am so proud to offer as our Scholastic Book Clubs Book of the Week.
After his parents separate, Leigh Botts moves to a new town with his mother. Struggling to make friends and deal with his anger toward his absent father, Leigh writes a series of letters to his favorite author, Boyd Henshaw, in the hopes that the author can provide the solutions to his problems. After four years of letters, Mr. Henshaw finally responds with a letter of his own, and the two form a friendship that changes Leigh’s life.
“Capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic.” —Kirkus Reviews
“A first-rate, poignant story…a lovely, well-crafted, three-dimensional work.” —The New York Times
With themes of family, identity, isolation, and perseverance that so many students can relate to, this timeless classic is a perfect addition to any classroom.
Here are some additional resources to complement this Book of the Week:
• Take a brain break with the Book Boys as they correspond with a pen pal of their own in an original music video
• Get tips from fifth grade teacher Colby Sharp on how to use Dear Mr. Henshaw in the classroom in Book Talks
• Discover four fun facts about Dear Mr. Henshaw, including the inspiration for the story and a drawing lesson with illustrator Paul O. Zelinsky in Behind the Scenes
• Download a free printable activity to accompany Dear Mr. Henshaw in Cooked Up from a Book
In addition to the $1 Book of the Week, we’ve created inflation-busting savings, exclusive author events, live read-aloud shows, and fun contests to get kids engaged with reading.
I’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to reach out anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This Book Is Available from Scholastic Book Clubs