Win an Audiobook to Cure Your Back to School Blues

Contest close. Congratulations to winner Nikki Coates! Stay tuned for next month’s contest.It’s September—and that means it’s back to school for students and teachers all over the country! Sure, summer is over, but we’ve got a giveaway to help you beat the blues!

dearmrhenshaw-thumbWe’re giving away a copy of Newbery Medal Winner Dear Mr. Henshaw to one lucky teacher or librarian. Leigh Botts is inspired by the author of his favorite book when the two begin writing letters back and forth. It begins with a school project, but Leigh ends up using his correspondence with Mr. Henshaw—and the diary Mr. Henshaw encouraged him to keep—as a way to work through the challenges he faces during the school year. Leave a comment on this post telling who inspired you—a teacher you had as a child, an author or celebrity, or a parent of friend—and how. We’ll randomly pick one commenter to win a copy of Dear Mr. Henshaw on CD. See the end of this post for complete rules. Don’t forget than an RB Teacher’s Guide is available for this title for only $1.25!

Dear Mr. Henshaw, I wasn’t going to answer any more of your questions, but Mom won’t get the TV repaired because she says it was rotting my brain. This is Thanksgiving vacation and I am so bored I decided to answer a couple of your rotten questions with my rotten brain. (Joke.) Your pooped reader, Leigh Botts” —from Dear Mr. Henshaw

When Leigh Botts was in the second grade, he wrote a thank you letter to Boyd Henshaw, the author of his favorite book, Ways to Amuse a Dog. In the 6th grade, Leigh writes to Mr. Henshaw again with a list of questions he needs answered for a class assignment on authors. To Leigh’s irritation, Mr. Henshaw not only refuses to answer his questions in time to complete the assignment, but he sends back a list of his own questions to Leigh instead. That marks the beginnings of a very unusual correspondence, between a lonely boy trying to cope with his parents’ divorce, and a wise author who gives him a means of changing his life forever.

strider-miniAlso be sure to check out our audio samples and free lesson plans for Strider (lessons and audio Part 1 and Part 2), the sequel to Dear Mr. Henshaw. The lesson plans were written by Laurie McGrath, Instructional Resource Teacher at Park Hall Elementary. Laurie’s plans outline each day’s activities for a complete 2-week course on the book and align with the Maryland Voluntary State Curriculum.


  • Leave a comment below (be sure to enter a valid email address, or we won’t be able to contact you if you win!) sharing a story about someone who inspired you and how they inspired you or why they were such an inspiration.
  • Tweet (we’re @recordedbooks) or blog about the contest and you can leave a second comment linking to your tweet or post—you’ll get another contest entry. Spread the word!
  • Again, be sure you leave a valid email address with your comment so we can contact you. If you’re picked as a winner and we can’t contact you, the prize will got to the next winner. (You don’t need to re-nter your address within the body of the comment, though. Just be sure it’s in the form when you leave your comment.)
  • Comments will be assigned a number (first commenter is #1, second is #2, etc). Winners will be picked by according to comment number.
  • Drawing will be held on September 11, 2009 at 12:00PM Eastern time. Winners will be contacted by email to get mailing information. The winner will receive one copy the following title on CD: Dear Mr. Henshaw.

28 Responses

  1. My Catholic high school chaplain, Father William Schooler, inspired me. A true humanist, he encouraged the students to think for themselves – even if that put him at odds with the school administration or the other faculty. The books in his office were always available for loan, and he introduced me to C.S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and comparative religion.

    • My best friend of 10 years Kathleen, is my inspriation. I can talk to her about anything and she knows when to give advice and when to just listen. Out of the ten years we have been best friends we have never once fought. She always knows how to cheer someone up whether that be tie- dying t-shirts, redecorating your room by painting it or making a poster for you to hang on your door that says, “Today is going to be a good day!” This girl breathes and lives passion and truely has a desire to serve people and to love them. I have never once seen her get mad at someone and when she does she goes up to them and softly but sternly tells them how she feels. She always remembers to leave a comment of encouragement to someone on facebook or through phone. She also gets you involved in projects to help people, if it wasn’t for Kathleen I would’ve never done gymnastics to help the gymnastics team, track to help out the track team or have learned how to paint. She is such a great person and always brightens your day. I don’t know what I would do without her.

  2. My third grade teacher Mrs. Carruthers inspired me. She was an “exchange” teacher from Australia and she introduced me to new perspectives. She also let me know she really cared about me as a person and a learner. She has kept in touch through out my life. In fact I still hear from her every Christmas. She keeps up no matter where I go and inspires me as I teach 3rd grade.

  3. My fourth grade teacher, Miss Judy, was an inspiration to me as a budding writer. She allowed me to read voraciously and did not censor my creativity. Her incentives included a meal at her home (that would probably not be permitted now) and I will always remember my introduction to alfalfa sprouts. I threw up on the way home.

  4. My students insprire me when they read a book so good that they have to share it with me. They inspire me by showing me that it just takes 1 book to reach them and get them hooked on reading. If I can find that one book, it can make a huge difference in their life.

  5. Eleanor was the most amazing children’s librarian! Her enthusiasm inspired generations of readers in her public library, and her storytimes were legendary in the County. Most amazingly, she could locate a book just from a brief description of a character or situation. One day I heard a young lady ask her for a book tin which a girl sat on a porch and chewed gum…and Eleanor’s face lit up. Off she flew to the stacks, returning with the right book! She introduced me to the classics, to illustrators, to storytelling and to public service, and I would be thrilled to be remembered as her student!

  6. As a professor of special education I assign my pre-service teachers to read books written by persons with disabilities or their parents and then write a book review. I encourage them to try and contact the authors and my students have really been excited to receive replies from such authors as Brad Cohen (Front of the Class), Debra Ginsberg (Raising Blaze), and Lissa Weinstein (Reading David).
    This summer one of my students introduced me to Maxine Harper. Maxine has cerebral palsy that affects her speech, necessitates a wheelchair and a service dog but teaches the same college course that I do (Introduction to Special Education). Maxine has also completed her doctorate – something I have yet to accomplish yet I look to her as a source of inspiration as I read her book – Journey of Hope.

  7. As I reflect on the many teachers I have had, I am drawn to my middle school teacher Mrs. Huizenga. Mrs. Huizenga was an inspiration to me not only to further my education to become a teacher, but also to use my mind in ways I never thought was possible. She challenged me to read new books, make connections, and develop an appreciation for different and unique learning styles that I intend to use in my own classroom someday.

  8. As I think about people that have inspired me I think about my 6th grade teacher Mrs. Weid. I someday hope to be a teacher exactly like her. She helped me develop a love for learning. When I think back to her as my middle school teacher I see someone that I aspire to be like someday. She made learning fun and exciting. I remember so many things that I learned in class. I feel lucky to have had her as my home room teacher in 6th grade. She made those akward middle school years so much better for me.

  9. Even though this answer may seem trite, cliche, and predictable, it is my answer none-the-less. My mom is the person that inspires me. Totally devoted to God, showing undying care for her patients, and an effervescent love for her family are just some of the amazing qualities my mom displays. My mom, Rosie Roose has helped start a program at Hinsdale Hospital called Still Missed. This program is offered for anyone that has had a miscarriage or any family members that may be affected by the loss. She constantly displays a compassion and tenderness of heart to her patients when she is comforting them in their time of grieving. I hope that in my future profession of Special Education I am able to provide this type of solace and comfort to my students and their families. Also, my mom is always helping someone out in need. At least once a month while I was growing up, we would visit shut-ins. This type of compassion has inspired me to reach out to those that can’t as easily reach out to you. From my mom’s devotion to God, comforting demeanor at work, and her love for her family she has inspired me in all I do to offer these same qualities to others.

  10. Looking back, my 4th grade teacher Mrs. Harrison stands out as being the person who has inspired me academically. She knew my potential and made me strive to achieve my best at all times. She soon found that I had a love for reading and opened herself up to me. She would give me wonderful books to read, and treat me to candy if I told her about it when I was finished. She truly touched my life because she went up and beyond her duty as a teacher. She cared about me personally and inspired me to continue my education.

  11. As I ponder about all of the special people in my life, I cannot help but think of my grandma. Growing up, I heard my grandma tell stories of students she had in her classroom when she taught at an elementary school. I could tell that she had a great passion for teaching and that she deeply cared for the students as individuals. This inspired me to pursue a degree in elementary education. Not only did she inspire me to become a teacher, but she also inspires me to be a compassionate woman of God. Her gift of hospitality shows when she houses people who need a place to stay or makes meals for those who are sick. She is also part of a jail ministry where she shares the gospel of Christ with other women. God has used her in many ways to minister to other people and He has certainly used her to be an example and inspiration to me.

  12. Who am I inspired by? Wow, what a question! There are many people that I admire and strive to be like, but the person that I am probably most inspired by is my sister Julie. It’s not very uncommon for younger sisters to look up to their older sisters, but in the case of Julie, she’s not just my older sister, but also my best friend. As far back as I can remember I’ve always wanted to be exactly like her. She’s the most patient and compassionate person I’ve ever met. She genuinely cares about others and uses her strengths to serve others. Julie inspires me to do the little, but often forgotten things, such as being joyful, grateful, and content. She challenges me to grow in all areas of my life, and to learn from my mistakes. My sister inspires me to treat others with respect and has taught me how to forgive. She’s encouraged me to work hard and use my gifts and talents. Most importantly, Julie inspires me to live a life that reflects that I am a servant of God. The way she carries herself and chooses to live gives me something to strive for, and I am so blessed to have her in my life.

  13. There are many people who have inspired me throughout my life. It is hard to pick just one, but the first person who has come to my mind was my high school English teacher. He is the person who was a major factor in me wanting to become an educator. He took something that I dreaded doing, like reading, and turned it into something I know enjoy doing for fun. Though I was in a public school this teacher also was able to squeeze in his faith in God into some of our talks and discussions, which I thought was brave and inspiring.

  14. So I almost feel bad picking one person who has influenced my life, because I’m leaving out so many people who have had an impact on my life! One person was this girl named Heather, who co-led my Sunday school classes when I was younger. I don’t even remember her last name, but she was part of the inspiration I had for being a teacher! It’s so cool how many people impact our lives, and they don’t even know it! I hope I’m influencing lives in the same way. 🙂

  15. One person that inspired me was the kindergarten teacher at my school when I was a senior. I aided in that classroom that year. She had such a passion for the children as students, but also as people. She loved her job. She was fair yet firm too. She was so easy to talk to about anything. She knew how to make school fun for the children. She was so willing to let me help out in anyway. She gave me that sense of belonging. She and the children both made me feel very much needed and appreciated. She has made a lasting imprint on her students and on me. It is my hope that I will become a teacher like that, one who will leave an imprint on my students. Each day she is in my thoughts and the memory of her and her class is one of the many things that pushes me on toward my goal.

  16. One person who has been an inspiration in my life is my minister’s wife, Crysta Brummel. The Brummel’s were my neighbors for ten years. I would go over to their house almost every day and talk with Crysta. She had 10 children and still managed to be a great wife, mother, and friend. She always gave me great advice and was willing to talk to me about anything. She set a great example for everyone in our church as well as me.

  17. I have many people who have inspired me in my life. However the one that I think of first would be my chemistry teacher from high school. I used to hate all kinds of science, I was even nervous taking chemistry I didnt think I would pass. Science was always boring and hard for me. I had my teacher for chemistry my sophomore year and ap chemistry my senior year. Yes, I took two years even though I didnt need to. My teacher made it enjoyable and fun to learn. After being in her class for two years I started thinking about becoming a science teacher. However; once I started doing some observation hours I changed my mind and wanted to become a special ed teacher. I want students to learn and have fun and see that school isnt as bad as it seems!

  18. There have been so many people in my life that have inspired me that it is difficult to narrow it down to one individual. However, the first person that comes to mind is my husband. He has always believed in me and has stayed with me through thick and thin. He always told me that I can be anything I want and not to let anyone or anything hold me back. He is one of the most compassionate people that I know and he never puts anyone down. He is patient, kind, and is always the first to lend a helping hand. Im so happy to have him in my life and he makes me want to be a better person. He is not only my husband but he’s also my best friend. Each day he inspires me to go to school and try my hardest. Overall, he brings out the best in me.

  19. One person that I have looked up to is one of my high school teachers. She was a truly different person. She gave respect to her students in her classroom and would not allow students to knock others down. I really liked this because sometimes teachers say that it isn’t a good idea but don’t always follow though with it.

    She also encouraged her students to look outside just the United States. There are people across the world who have done wonderful things. We are very blessed to have all that we have. In fact, she fasted from starbucks for a period of time and gave that money to an organization. It was just so nice to see someone to live their life with actions as well as words.

  20. My inspiration has been Mrs. Engbers ever since I had the honor of having her as my 3rd grade teacher. She not only taught me the basic knowlege that is required of you in the 3rd grade but inspired me in so many more ways. For example, she showed an honest interest in each student as a person. She knew your family and often asked about them. She was concerned about you even if it didn’t deal with things directly involving school. She is a great Christian lady and she made sure to incorporate faith in her lessons daily. I admire her for her patience, care, and genuine personality. She is a teacher I would love to model myself after someday.

  21. The most inspirational person in my life is my grandma. Looking back as far as I can remember, my grandma has always been a helpful, and caring individual. She is a God loving woman who has served the Lord faithfully, and has lent her hand for help at church in endless ways. At our church my grandma is known as the Sunshine Lady, she received this name because she brings plants, candy, and other gifts to the sick and elderly who need some cheering up. I have never heard her say something negative about a person, and she always finds the good in a bad situation. There is so much more I could find to say about my amazing grandma, but this would turn into a very long story rather than a quick paragraph. I just hope to one day be as hospitable as her.

  22. One person that I was blessed to have come in contact with during my life was Mrs. Carey, the teacher I shadowed while in college. She is a 3rd grade teacher, who is very loving and respectable. She provided me with a new light on teacher. She told me that even though everyday I would not love coming to school — look forward to the children that I come in contact with, because they will change my life. Also she taught me that even when life is rough, let your love for the students shine through. She inspired me to want to teach 3rd graders some day. She also was so willing to help me with any questions I had. She also taught me that it is important to allow the students to be creative and learn on their with guidance. I hope in the future I will be able to thank her in person. I also hope that I can have such an influence on someone else someday.

  23. The most inspirational person in my life would have to be my high school math teacher, Ms. J. Not only did she make learning math fun, but she also made good relationships with all of her students. She is one of the reasons why i chose education as my major, I hope to impact students one day the way that she made an impact on my life. She always came to class with a smile on her face and was always there to talk to if you had a math or personal question or problem. If you did not understand something she would go over it and explain it until you really understood it. She is someone that I can still go to for advice or help during my college years. When I become a teacher I hope that my students look back and can see in me what I saw in Ms. J.

  24. Edith Bowen & Emma Eccles Jones. Two friends who had a passion for children in a time when it may not have been proper. They started the first Kindergarten program in Northern Utah. Then, to improve their practice, traveled east every summer to study with the likes of John Dewey. Their legacy of ‘real life’ instruction lives on at Utah State University with the College of Education and Human Services named after Mrs. Jones and the elementary lab school named after Edith Bowen. I only hope I can maintain the same passion for children’s learning they exemplified throughout their lifetimes.

  25. One person in my life who had a tremendous impact on me was my high school football coach. This coach didn’t just inspire, he forever changed me and the path my life took once I started playing for him. No one in my life had ever pushed me so hard, made me work so much, been so tough on me, or cared as much as he did. This man believed in me more than I believed in myself, and through his dedicated, persistent effort, he was able to reach me in a way that no teacher, coach, or person had ever done before. The main, and most important things that that this coach taught me had nothing to do with football but are tools that I will use the rest of my life; the ability to apply myself to the highest levels and work through whatever obstacles or adversity come my way.

  26. Love this book! My mom has inspired me – she was a cancer survivor first. Then I was. She managed to get through it so I could too!

  27. […] them, and we got some great responses! Here are a few of our favorites, but we encourage you to read the rest of the inspiring stories as well—perfect for a pick-me-up on this day of […]

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