1st Edition

The Gift of Story Exploring the Affective Side of the Reading Life

By John Schu Copyright 2022

    With the rise of teacher stressors, new and changing state standards, and high-stakes testing, it is more important than ever to remind literacy teachers and teacher-librarians about the reason that brought them to this profession: the love of story.

    The Gift of Story: Exploring the Affective Side of the Reading Life, by John Schu (affectionately known as Mr. Schu all over reading communities), invites readers to consider literacy beyond its academic benefits and explore how universal truths found in stories can change us, inspire us, connect us to others, answer our deepest questions, and even help us heal along the way. Using his experience as a teacher, librarian, book lover, and story ambassador, Mr. Schu asks readers to reflect on what it means to share their hearts through stories and how it can connect us to individuals and learning communities.

    The Gift of Story is presented through a study of five affective elements: Healer, Inspiration, Clarifier, Compassion, and Connector. Along the way, readers will encounter insightful contributions from educators, children's writers, and illustrators, as well as recommendations for sharing the gift of story with learning communities including: treasured book suggestions that stir reflection, engaging tips for celebrating literacy, and heart-growing applications to lift classroom and library practices.

    Celebrate the way we define and imagine ourselves through literacy by using stories to connect to others, build and strengthen community, and honor the children we were called to teach.

    Chapter 1: Book of Your Heart; Chapter 2: Story as Healer; Chapter 3: Story as Inspiration; Chapter 4: Story as Clarifier; Chapter 5: Story as Compassion; Chapter 6: Story as Connector; The Story Continues …


    John Schu has made a career out of advocating for the people and things he cares about most: kids, books, and the people that connect them. John is a children's book author, a part-time lecturer at Rutgers University, and the children's librarian for Bookelicious. His greatest joy is sharing his love of reading with countless educators and students around the world.

    "Schu's new book is an absolute tribute to the magic that lies within each book a reader picks up. This book will be scoured by librarians and teachers for classroom tips, recommendations, and insight." —Samantha Hullα (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

    “In classic John Schu fashion, The Gift of Story embraces the human impact stories have on children, on instruction, for schools, for the home, and for our hearts. John Schu provides a wealth of strategies and resources to build a robust, diverse, and intentional library. The Gift of Storyis a heartfelt literary love letter to all the emphatic, enthusiastic, and empathetic readers who impact the reading lives of children.” —Alice Lee, ED.D., Elementary Principal and Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

    “This is just the book my heart needed! The Gift of Story takes a dive into the affective benefits that reading can bring ALL readers. You'll learn how stories can heal hearts and minds, inspire change and growth, clarify perspectives, build compassion, and connect all readers together. Don't miss out on this very special and beautiful celebration of literacy.” —Becky Calzada, Library Coordinator, Leander ISD, Texas

    “John Schu’s The Gift of Story resonates with my librarian heart. This book serves as a reminder that connecting, inspiring, and motivating students to read is an important and sacred job. Mr. Schu weaves together educators working in various roles to share a plethora of ideas, inspirations, and stories to build up literacy in a learning community. The Gift of Story is all about the heart. Thank you, John, for sharing your heart so we can make connections with all the hearts we serve as educators and librarians.” —Tamiko Brown, SLJ School Librarian of the Year 2017

    The Gift of Story will remind educators why we do this work. My heart needed this book. In the spirit of Mr. Schu, I want to buy this book for every educator I know.” —Colby Sharp, Fifth-Grade Teacher and Co-Founder of the Nerdy Book Club

    “John Schu is every educator's librarian. With his inspiring connections and cherished insight, he shines a light on the right story for every reader. This gifted storyteller has penned his magic to the page and it's exactly what all our ‘book hearts’ need.” —Ali Schilpp, SLJ's 2019 School Librarian of the Year

    “John Schu has an innate ability to connect readers with the book their heart needs—this time, he's written it. The Gift of Story equips educators to share their heart through story; to nurture connections among our readers and stories that extend beyond the academic elements to also include the affective ones that change readers, their hearts, and the world.” —Elisabeth Stayer, Librarian & Educator

    “John Schu is a legendary presenter for a reason-his love of books and literacy inspires educators and students around the globe. The Gift of Story is a John Schu presentation in book form. It's uplifting. It's motivating. It's life-affirming. Happy reading!” —Travis Jonker, Elementary School Librarian, Wayland Union Schools (MI)

    "The Gift of Story by John Schu is indeed a gift to hearts everywhere. It covers the importance of dialogue, questions, and basic human experiences as they relate to reading. Then ultimately how they connect to the heart of the reader. This book will rejuvenate the hearts of educators and all who read it while developing spaces for all readers to share their love of stories." —Kerry-Ann Reeves, Fifth-Grade Teacher, City School District of New Rochelle