Falling in love with Tomie dePaola was easy. I loved him before I ever met him. His books were among my favorite to share with children; the characters in his stories were loved by everyone in my family.

The first time I “met” this beloved creator of over 260 books for children was in an online interview on April 18, 2017.

The following year, I interviewed him again for Read-Aloud Revival, and it just so happened to be… April 18, 2018.

“April 18th is our day!” he wrote to me afterward.

Indeed. 🥰

Tomie and I developed a friendship I treasured. I made it a habit of visiting his home in New Hampshire each summer. We emailed regularly.

I shared the antics of my identical twin boys (he couldn’t get enough of those stories!), and he sent me oodles of ‘s and o’s in my inbox.

Miss you already

Tomie died on March 30th, 2020, and the world wasn’t ready for it.

Neither was Tomie. He wanted “two more years” to make work for our children — to create illustrations and stories to the kids who loved him and his characters. We were even working on a picture book together at the time he passed away.

The world has lost a great gift with Tomie’s passing, but here at Read-Aloud Revival, we will continue to honor every April 18th our official Tomie Day.

For your own Tomie Day celebration, we want to help your kids immerse in the magical world of Tomie dePaola. We’ll do it the best way we know how: by reading aloud.

What you’ll find here are suggestions for your own Tomie Day. You can also get the printable version of these suggestions by popping your email in below.

We hope you choose to celebrate. After all, the world is better because he was in it!

xo, Sarah Mackenzie


Here’s what to do:

Read anything by Tomie dePaola.

If you don’t already have some on your shelf, get some. Your library likely has several of his titles!

Here are some recommendations. But truly, we recommend everything he ever made.

If you would like to add a Tomie book to your home library and can pick only one, then choose The Magical World of Strega Nona, A Treasury.

You can watch Tomie describe coming up with the idea for Strega Nona in this video clip (we recorded it last summer in his studio):

Use any of the following open-ended questions to spark conversations with your kids of all ages. 

Remember that asking open-ended questions is more important than getting compelling answers. We want to help our kids develop the habit of asking questions as they read. This is how we raise discerning readers.

🖨 For more tips and suggestions, use our FREE 5 QUESTIONS GUIDE.

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  • What does Big Anthony (or any character) want most, and why can’t he have it?
  • Should Big Anthony (or any character) have done that? Why or why not?
  • Who is the most courageous in this story? Where did they show that courage?
  • What other story does this one remind you of?
  • What is something from this story you don’t want to forget? 
  • Which spread in this book do you like best?
  • What is the “so what?” in this story? How is the world different at the end of the book than it is at the beginning? (In other words… why does this story matter?)

The goal of a shared experience is simple: to pair the book with a wonderful memory in your child’s mind.

We love to make this experience happen over a meal, so you’re not adding to your to-do list; you’re just transforming a task you’re already doing (making dinner) into something memorable.

Make a pasta dinner (it’s what Strega Nona would do, after all). 🍝

Pair your pasta with a green salad and buttered bread. Don’t forget to sing bubble bubble to your pasta pot! 🎶

Enjoy this video interview with Tomie (this was recorded live in RAR Premium). He reads a bit from the wonderful award-winning book about his childhood, 26 Fairmount Avenue, and we talk all about his process. Pure joy!

You can also find a 3-minute interview about the re-release of his classic tale, The Mysterious Giant of Barletta, recorded in his studio, here:

Each year on April 18th for now and forevermore is hereby proclaimed Tomie Day. We hope you’ll celebrate with us!

If you celebrate Tomie Day, post a picture to social media and use the tags #tomieforever and #readaloudrevival so we can find you!

P.S. Did you know we named our new Labradoodle Tomie dePawla? It’s true. 🐾 He will definitely be celebrating Tomie Day! 😂 Keep up with Tomie dePawla’s adventures here.