Michael J. Rosen

Photo by Will Shively

Michael J. Rosen is the acclaimed author of some three dozen books for children of all ages (and even more for grown-ups!), including The Cuckoo’s Haiku and Other Poems for Birders; Our Farm: Four Seasons with Five Kids on One Famiy’s Farm (which he both wrote and illustrated with some 400 photographs); A Drive in the Country; Don’t Shoot!; A School for Pompey Walker; and Elijah’s Angel. For over 35 years, ever since working as a counselor, water-safety instructor, and art teacher at local community centers, Michael has been engaged with young children, their parents, and teachers. As a visiting author, in-service speaker, and workshop leader, he frequently travels to schools and conferences around the nation, sharing his stories, poems, creativity, and humor.

As a talented editor and illustrator, Michael has enlisted hundreds of other authors and artists to create 15 philanthropic books that aid in the fight to end childhood hunger through Share Our Strength’s national efforts, or that offer care to less fortunate companion animals through The Company of Animals Fund, a granting program he began in 1990.

For the last four years, working with the Ohio Children’s Foundation, Michael created a early literacy activity book, particularly designed for kids who are likely to start school without knowing the alphabet: You, Me, and the ABCs: 100 Ready-for-Reading Activities for Kids and Their Favorite Grown-ups.


What was your favorite book when you were a child?

Too many to choose from, but I had an unhealthy appetite for books on science, magic, optical illusions, nature, space, and most anything else the library had to offer.

What’s your favorite line from a book?

“Chapter One.” And so it always begins!

Who are your top three favorite authors or illustrators?

My admiration for others is immense. I’ve learned from so many people, both artists for adults and for kids. Some of the biggest influences were Seymour Chwast, Milton Glaser, and then the writer James Thurber.

Why did you want to become an author or illustrator?

To find myself among the lines of a story, with the hope that others would also find themselves among my stories. It’s all about slowing down the world in order to give us time to really appreciate what is going on.

Do you have any advice for future authors or illustrators?

As they say at the gym every day, “bring it!” Just do it more than anyone else you know is doing it. Read, write, draw whenever you have the time, space, inclination. Don’t wait for assignments. And don’t feel as if “done” is the goal. “Not done” has to be the joyful part, the thing that sustains and motivates you.