The Reading Culture Welcomes Jon Klassen

author jon klassen
Masthead Waves


When our kids were younger, I considered story time to be our own personal theater. Some of my best roles were as picture book characters, especially those created by Jon Klassen. I remember reading the Caldecott-winning “This Is Not My Hat,” and our kids cracking up and arguing with the characters they encountered. Jon, a beloved illustrator of dozens of books, many in partnership with author Mac Barnett, stepped out on his own with The Hat trilogy, and has been making books ever since. His minimal aesthetic and unexpected storylines have captivated so many of us, and I couldn’t wait to talk with Jon and hear about how the heck he comes up with his fabulous picture books.


In this episode, Jon shares about the books in high school that completely changed his view of the world and of writing. We also talk about expressionless bears, the books at his grandparents’ house that shaped his childhood, the expectations of art kids and their sketchbooks, and some of Jon’s favorite Saturday Night Live bits that likely contributed to his wry humor. 


For his reading challenge, A Tale to Remember, Jon takes a (you guessed it) minimal approach. He challenges us to read a story once, take note of the date, and don’t go back. Then, a year later, read the story again to see if its components or ending changed in your mind over that time. This is precisely what happened with Jon that inspired his newest book, “The Skull.” For Beanstack clients, use the challenge on your site!  


This week’s featured librarian, Ellen Clark, is the Children's Outreach Librarian for Kokomo Howard County Public Library in Indiana. She shares a wonderful story about a mom, a daughter, and that feeling when you get the right book into the right hands at the right time! 


Listen to the full episode, “Negative Space: Jon Klassen on Restraint,” on Apple, Google, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Like what you hear? Please leave a 5-star review, subscribe, and share with someone who will enjoy it!


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