Robert Munsch grew up in Pennsylvania, in a big family with nine kids. Well, to be more accurate, Munsch specifies that he lived in Pennsylvania when he was young, and that he never really did grow up at all. The prolific author struggled through most of his schooling, but always had a passion for writing. He particularly enjoyed writing poetry, both the serious and silly varieties. But writing was his past time, not something he, or anyone else, really valued at the time.
Fast forward a few decades, and you find Robert Munsch working in day cares and preschools, captivating children with his storytelling. On his official website, Munsch recalls, “For ten years I did this without thinking I had any special skill. After all, while I made the best stories in the daycare centre, most of the other teachers made better play doh. I eventually got a long list of stories I told, but I never wrote them down.”
Eventually, Munsch found himself working in the lab preschool at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, his boss (with some prompting from his wife, a children’s librarian) gave Munsch two months off to write down some of his stories and send them off to ten publishers. One accepted his manuscript and an author was born.
Robert Munsch enjoys connecting with kids and often draws his stories out of experiences and conversations with some of his smallest fans. It’s this connection that makes his stories so authentic and appealing to kids of all ages. His child-like imagination and sense of humor combined with his storytelling style make his books some of the best on the bookshelf.
With over 25 books to choose from, picking the best titles by Robert Munsch is not an easy task. Between my own children and those I’ve worked with, I think I’ve narrowed it down to my three picks.
The Paper Bag Princess. Who doesn’t love a good story about a princess who saves herself and calls the superficial prince a “bum”? At least that’s what I like about it. My boys just love the dragon and the way he gets tricked into using all his fire and all his energy, causing him to be anything but fierce. It’s a unique story and a clever plot.
Mmm, Cookies! This story really lends itself to Munsch’s storytelling style. It includes sound effects (which I always add actions to) and it’s an easy one to get the kids to join in. You can read a full summary and story activity for this book here.
Alligator Baby. Kids love this book! It’s a silly story (of course) about Kristen’s parents who accidentally go to the zoo instead of the hospital to have their baby. Exhausted, they make several trips between their home and the zoo, trying to bring home the right baby. By the end, their home is full of baby animals, and Kristen saves the day by retrieving her baby brother from the zoo. The story is hilarious and the pattern in the text keeps kids engaged.