Books And More

Love for School Libraries

Author Megan McDonald talks to TFK about her role as national spokesperson for School Library Month

March 31, 2016

Megan McDonald speaks to students in South Dakota.

For author Megan McDonald, school libraries are the heartbeat of a school.

McDonald, the writer of the popular Judy Moody and Stink books, is the 2016 national spokesperson for School Library Month (SLM) taking place this month.

The youngest of five girls, McDonald grew up in a suburb outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After studying children’s literature in college, she became a librarian at a public library. Today, McDonald lives in California where she writes and also consults with schools in Northern California to help them with their school library programs.

TIME For Kids chatted with McDonald about the importance of reading and school libraries, and her inspiration for the now-famous Judy Moody and Stink characters.


Why are school libraries important to you?


The school library was really where I got my start. It wasn’t just a place where you could get homework help and curriculum support. It was the place where I first met Ramona and Laura Ingalls Wilder from Little House on the Prairie. For me, school libraries shape lives.


What does it mean to be spokesperson for School Library Month? What will you be doing?


I get to be an advocate to talk about school libraries and their importance. [The role of School Library Month Spokesperson] touches me personally because of what the school library has meant to me.


The newest book in Megan McDonald's Stink series was released in February.

The newest book in Megan McDonald's Stink series was released in February.

Why is it important for kids to read?


Reading is sort of the keystone to everything we do. Reading is really important to kids as learners, but I also feel really strongly that it feeds our imaginations, transports us, and inspires us.


What was the inspiration for your characters Judy Moody and Stink?


My original inspiration came from growing up with so many sisters. We grew up in a family of readers and storytellers. I had all these funny stories about my sisters that I wanted to tell. The first Judy Moody book probably has the most stories that came from my childhood. After that, Judy and Stink really took on a life of their own. Everyone knows a ‘Judy Moody’ in their lives. With Judy, it’s funny, because I’ll start writing a book and I’ll think to myself that I don’t have any more ideas for Judy Moody. But then about halfway through writing I’ll think about what I want her to do next. Every time I just think of new adventures that I want her to have.


Who are some of your favorite authors and what are some of your favorite books?


Beverly Cleary with the Ramona books. Harriet The Spy by Louise Fitzhugh was also a really important book for me growing up. And now, I would say that one of my most-favorite authors is Katherine Paterson. I love her book called The Great Gilly Hopkins. Gilly is so individual, and strong-minded, and willful. She’s not always perfect. Judy Moody was sort of inspired by that character. I love that book.


What advice do you have for kids who want to write books?


It’s really simple. I think the best thing anybody–a kid or an adult–can do if they want to write, is to read. I feel really strongly about that, because I think reading is not only what inspires us, but it’s a way that we learn language, it’s a way that we [learn] how stories work with beginnings, middles, and ends. For me, it all begins with reading. And if I’m stuck on something or feeling down about my writing, I just pick up a book and read. That always lifts me up.

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