Saturday, February 16, 2013

Mo Willems - "Why Books?"

Mo Willems and his pigeon. Smile material. Masterful picture books!
In 2011, Mo was invited to give the prestigious Zena Sutherland Lecture. He titled his talk "Why Books?"
Here are some highlights:

"Always think of your audience; never think for your audience."

"If I re-read one of my manuscripts and I understand exactly what is happening, then the manuscript has too many words. And if I look at the images without the words and I can fully understand the story, there are too many drawings."

On enhanced digital books: ". . . after we turn them on, they don't need us. Turn it on and leave the room, and the book will read itself."

On real books:  "But a real book is helpless. It needs us desperately. We have to pull it off the shelf. We have to open it up. We have to turn the pages, one by one. We even have to use our imagination to make it work.  . . . So maybe books work because they make us work. Maybe we need them for needing us, just like we need real friends, not the digital imitations on Facebook."

Well said. Do you agree?

Photo credit: Marty Umans


  1. Love Mo Willems, of course, and thanks for this post! Also, real books are clearly superior for me, but Mo Willems describes WHY better than anything I've ever read.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, CL. Yes, I think Mo gives us a great reason to favor "real" books. With digital books, we don't have the same connected relationship.

  3. I completely agree. While I've been reading a bit more on my Kindle lately - I can throw in in a bag and travel easily, knowing I won't run out of anything to read -- I still prefer a real book. And a large part of it is the page turn. I look forward to turning a page.

    The reasons for loving a good page turn when reading a PB are obvious, but I feel the same way about novels. I can't wait to see what the next page brings.

    I miss that feeling on my Kindle. Maybe it's because the page turns are too frequent. Maybe a tap isn't as satisfying as a turn.

  4. I too agree. Nothing compares to the feel of a real book, no matter what cool gadgets the future brings. I'm glad there are many who feel the same. And I love Mo Willems' take- it's nice to know books need us, too!

  5. What an awesome talk! Thanks so much for sharing, Gale! So many gems! Mo Willems is amazing! :o)

  6. So far everyone prefers the printed page. Are we unusual, or do we represent a majority?