I fell in love with Tomie dePaola before I had ever met him. His books were among my favorite to share with children, and 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.

Over the next couple of years, Tomie and developed a friendship I treasured. I made it a habit to visit his home in New Hampshire each summer. We emailed one another regularly.

He was among my favorite people to have ever walked the planet.

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 pass on his illustrations and his stories to the kids who loved him and his characters so very much.

We were even (shhhh) 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.

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

Happy Tomie Day. 🕊The world is better because he was in it!

#tomieforever

Here’s what to do:

Read anything by Tomie dePaola. Get his books off your shelves and read them aloud.

If you don’t already have some on your shelf, here are a few versions of his most popular title, Strega Nona that you can get online, since visiting a library or bookshop isn’t possible right now:

If your local independent bookstore is shipping books or offers curbside pickup, call them and ask what they have of Tomie’s on hand! Any book by Tomie is well worth owning.

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):

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

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.

  • What does Big Anthony want most, and why can’t he have it?
  • Should Big Anthony 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 resonates with you most—the words or the pictures?
  • 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?)

Preview(opens in a new tab)

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!


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

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