I am just crazy about Johnny Appleseed! So crazy, in fact, that I wrote a book about him (you can read about it here and of course there are copies in the school library), and was very honored to be invited to speak at the National Book Festival about it, where I had the additional honor of meeting some favorite authors of Stone students: Jeff Kinney (author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, pictured with me below), R.L. Stine (author of the Goosebumps series) and Tad Hill (author and illustrator of the wonderful picture book, How Rocket Learned to Read), and the Librarian of Congress, James Billington, which was a special thrill for me because he is kind of like the President of Librarians (and a very nice man, besides). Of course, I recommended that they all visit us if they are in our neck of the woods!
Every year, Johnny Appleseed's birthday is a very special holiday for me. I bake apple pies (copies of the recipe in the library), share apple-themed books all week and make a "Johnny Appleseed Pledge," kind of a New Year's resolution, where I vow to do one thing every day to make my country a better place...because by planting a small seed every day, Johnny "Appleseed" Chapman changed the landscape of our nation. I think reading out loud to our children is a small seed that we grown-ups can plant every day that will also change the landscape of our nation. If you don't believe me (or even if you do), please check out The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease, which suggests over 10,000 studies compiled by the Department of Education all point to the same thing: reading aloud to children ensures future academic success, and should be done across all the grade levels!
As educator Stephen Covey suggests, "Anyone can count the seeds in an apple. Who can count the apples in a seed?" It was amazing all the good things that happened, just by reading and pursuing my interest in my American hero, and there are so many more heroes and mentors through history that we can find in books and that will inspire your own path (biography, section 921 in our library!). Thank you to all the Stone families who plant the seed to read!