Scholastic: A Clued-In Organization That Brings Kids Literacy, Learning, and a Big Red Dog

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This past Sunday I did a keynote presentation for Scholastic at their national sales meeting here in Chicago. It was an exciting gig to do: Scholastic books were in every classroom even when I was a little kid decades ago (its roots go back to 1920), and Scholastic as an organization continues to be a central player in guiding our nation's schools toward increasing literacy of all kinds through publishing, book clubs, writing awards, you name it.

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Plus, we owe Scholastic for the existence of Clifford the Big Red Dog — and Clifford gave Scholastic a helping paw in return. Scholastic published the first Clifford book in 1963 and the popularity of the series put Scholastic at the head of the class as a major publishing company. Clifford is still Scholastic's mascot today.

And after Clifford came everything from Goosebumps to Captain Underpants, and even Harry Potter and the Hunger Games (Scholastic is the US publisher for both series). Not to mention Dynamite magazine! Except I just did.

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Oh, and I can't help noting that they also publish the highly popular multi-author "39 Clues" book series. Spoiler alert: I'm not one of them. Maybe if I put my mind to it I could be the 40th Clue?

But back to Sunday night. The feedback I got after the presentation was great, not just because they enjoyed it but because they said it challenged them a little and made them think.

One thing they requested ahead of time was that they wanted to hear my story as a challenged learner. Which is a regular part of my presentation anyway. But I'm not sure they were fully prepared for the story of how I used to sometimes wind up with duct tape over my mouth to keep me quiet in class, until I started bringing it to school myself as a joke. But I think it got the point across that I'd had some struggles to overcome, and they appreciated the lessons that I learned along the way and share in my presentation.

One fellow, a director of sales from the Pacific Northwest said, "Wow — you were disruptive, important, *and* funny all at the same time, and we needed that."

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Someone else told me, "There were things you were saying that were as funny as they were challenging to us. We tend to be a little serious here ... and sometimes we forget that laughter can be helpful in getting the message across."

You wouldn't necessarily think of the company that brings so much joy and entertainment to kids, along with the lessons, as having such a serious internal culture. But I get it. All entertainers and comedians know that the laughter and fun you bring to others comes at the price of a certain amount of angst on the inside. "Tears of a Clown," anyone? Taking their mission seriously is part of what makes Scholastic so good at what they do.

At any rate, it's always nice when you get to make the people think who've been helping make kids think for all these years, with a healthy dose of entertainment and humor in the bargain.

Thanks, Scholastic, for mentoring young minds of all kinds, every day and in every way.


In addition to appearing as an interactive and funny speaker for educators, Tim Clue is available as a business keynote speaker for corporate events of all kinds as well as a keynote speaker for healthcare events.

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