Movie News: Robin Williams is slated to star in a movie of Sam Swope's The Krazees!

A favorite of kids, parents, classroom teachers, and science educators alike, Gotta Go! Gotta Go! tells the life story of the Monarch butterfly and its amazing migration.

"... soars as a prose poem picture book..." -- The Horn Book

"The words are simple and urgent. Even preschoolers will feel the excitement about this most fragile of creatures that can fly so far and prove so strong." -- Booklist

Click here to read how the book is used to teach philosophy to second graders!

A reader skips breakfast in favor of Jack and the Seven Deadly Giants!


This book has been adapted into more school plays than I can count. Families call it their favorite book. School districts have hosted district-wide Araboolie Days where the kids dress up as Araboolies and the adminsitration as the Pinches. One school even put their furniture outside, just like the Araboolies.

Now it's a bona fide musical in which General Pinch dances and Mrs. Pinch sings. Its world premiere in D.C. got rave reviews and was featured on public radio's All Things Considered. Have a listen -- it'll give you a taste of how much fun it was. (If you're interested in doing a production, let me know.)

I'm proud to say that twenty-three years after the book was published, it was given a Horace Mann Upstanders Lifetime Achievement Award from Antioch University. This book keeps on surprising me. Thank you, Antioch!

Or, if you prefer, there's also an opera version written especially for school productions. How cool is that?!


Writing this book (and living it) changed my life. It taught me what it meant to be a teacher, both for good and bad. And I learned a lot about how to get kids to write original, powerful, wacky and sad stories and poems. Inspiring kids was an inspiration to me.

I Am a Pencil was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year. It won a Christopher Award, a Books for a Better Life Award, and The Bechtel Prize, which I had never heard of but am glad to have. It was also featured on National Public Radio's program "All Things Considered" and you can hear that interview here. The book has been translated into Japanese, Korean and Portuguese. Click here to read about my alternately hilarious and moving trip to Japan to promote its publication there.

Here are some nice things people have said about the book:

"It's really hard to communicate the sheer pleasure in teaching, and really connecting with, students like the ones Swope describes in such rich and generous detail. Is there a book that more convincingly demonstrates that any students, anywhere, from any backgrounds or surmounting any obstacles, can be led to love poetry, to read like madmen, to write compulsively and be open to the possibilities of the word on the page? I Am a Pencil should be read by anyone who wants to find inspiration in today's students, teachers and the Sam Swopes that enhance the lives of both."
- Dave Eggers, author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

"Swope's marvelous, moving book revives the teaching memoir . . . And takes it to new realms of tenderness, insight and humanity." - Phillip Lopate

"If only Swope's book were a lesson plan we could follow."
- Los Angeles Times Book Review

"A magical journey. Sam Swope clearly has a gift for inspiring in others the make-believe, and so it's a treat to watch as he taps the imaginings of his immigrant students, and in doing so discover the realities of their newfound lives here."
- Alex Kotlowitz, Pulitzer-prize winning author of There Are No Children Here