Book by Book: December's Supporter of the Month is Tom Burns of "Building A Library"!

December 1, 2013 | Supporter of the Month

A few months ago, we were pleased to find a Google alert leading us to this article about our 2010 publication, Don’t Stay Up So Late: Bedtime Stories by Children, For Children (written by students at Ypsilanti’s Erickson Elementary School). Don’t Stay Up So Late has long been a favorite around 826michigan, so we were excited to see it featured. Our excitement only grew as we realized that, far from a rote mention, this article was an in-depth positive review from someone who truly loved and appreciated the book. And we were even MORE delighted when we saw the follow-up, “10 Amazing Things You Can Find In 826michigan’s Don’t Stay Up So Late. Since its feature on “Building A Library”, sales of Don’t Stay Up So Late have picked up dramatically. (Get your own copy, and browse more of robotic wares, at!) And naturally, proceeds from these sales benefit 826michigan’s future publications, including our 2014 project at Ypsilanti Community High School, in the works as we type this.

So, it became abundantly clear: whoever was behind this was a true friend to 826michigan.

That friend turned out to be Tom Burns, the brains behind “Building A Library” — a blog focused entirely on the quest of choosing excellent books to read to and with children. As you can imagine, this is a quest that is very close to our hearts! In recognition of his thoughtful review of our publication, and of our shared interest in making literacy fun for all, we are proud to name Tom, and “Building A Library”, our December Supporter of the Month.

We asked Tom a few questions about 826, kids reading comics, and the perks of life in Southeast Michigan.

How did you first hear about 826michigan and what attracted you to it?

A few years ago, I was visiting a friend in New York and he told me, “I have to take you to one of the coolest places I’ve ever seen in my life.” That place was 826NYC’s Superhero Supply Co. in Brooklyn. And, even though I spent a lot of time geeking out over the decor and buying cans of antimatter, the best part of the excursion was seeing a father bring his daughter into the store, looking to sign her up for the after-school programs, and watching the sheer delight on his daughter’s face as an 826 volunteer enthusiastically explained everything they had to offer her. It was completely inspiring.

That put 826 National on my radar in a big way, so I was really happy when they opened a branch in my home state. I’ve visited 826michigan a few times with my own daughter, mostly to happily gawk at Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair. However, last summer, during the 2013 Kids Read Comics convention, I had my first opportunity to sit back and watch as my daughter participated in an 826michigan workshop and it was just as wonderful and enriching as I could’ve hoped.

What’s your favorite thing about life in Southeast Michigan?
My favorite thing about Southeast Michigan that it’s a fantastic place to raise a kid. I don’t think I realized that when I was young, but now, being a dad, I am constantly bowled over by how many opportunities there are locally for me to expose my daughter to pure, unadulterated awesomeness. Within a 30-minute radius from our house, I can take my kid to go see Vincent Van Gogh’s self-portrait, we can see how cars are built, we can sled, swim, or hike, we can feed giraffes, we can eat at ridiculously good restaurants that can inspire my kid to order more than just chicken tenders, we can wander around some of the most breathtaking architectural marvels of the Rust Belt, we can cheer on roller derby girls who can show my daughter that women really can kick butt, we can lose entire weekends in parks, museums, libraries, gardens (often for absolutely no charge)… heck, we can visit another country and still have time to grab a coney dog before we head home. And we can do all that in a really supportive, diverse, and non-pretentious community. What’s not to like?

Very well said, Tom! And thanks for doing your part for young people in Southeast Michigan, and everywhere!

Visit “Building A Library” to learn more about Tom and the great collection he’s putting together.

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