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Jim Aylesworth

Picture book author Jim Aylesworth tells his stories with generous doses of loud sounds, rhythms and rhymes. His experiences as a teacher have taught him that these are the elements children like in a story, especially when it is being read aloud. So, in Hanna's Hog, Aylesworth includes a loud hog call, in The Completed Hickory Dickory Dock, he offers numerous bouncy nonsensical rhymes, in Country Crossing, the sounds of the still countryside and a train passing fill the night, and in Old Black Fly, a repetitious, rhythmic chant follows a pesky fly in its journey through a house.
"photograph Sharron L. McElmeel" 
Jim Aylesworth is a native of Jacksonville, Florida but he lived in many places during his childhood. By the time Aylesworth was 15 his family had settled in Hinsdale, Illinois and that is where he graduated from high school in 1961. In 1965, he graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio with a B.A. in English. He returned to Hinsdale and began a career as a stockbroker. By 1970, however, Aylesworth was thinking about what he really wanted to do. After a series of assignments as a substitute teacher, Aylesworth ended up in a primary classroom. He began teaching first grade students in Oak Park, Illinois in 1971 and entered Concordia College in River Forest, Illinois, to earn a graduate degree in elementary education -- a goal he reached in 1978. During the years Aylesworth taught he was given several awards. In 1975 the Illinois State Board of Education named him among "Those Who Excel," and in 1984 he was named a "Governor's Master Teacher." The following year he was named Corcordia University's "Alumnus of the Year." In 1998 Hinsdale High School named him to their Hall of Fame. He has been honored in several years with an entry in Who's Who Among America's Teachers. But during all those years it was his work with children who brought him the most reward. It was Aylesworth's experiences as a teacher that eventually led him to writing children's books. His students' enjoyment of his stories encouraged him to persist in pursuing his dream of being a children's book writer. It was in the classroom that he realized the power of books. He says, "I have seen a room full of children sit still and pay attention to a good book when it may be the first time they've been still at the same time all day."

During his twenty-five years of teaching Aylesworth read hundreds of books to his young students. Aylesworth found himself wanting to be a bigger part of this world of children's stories. And so he decided to write his own books, and has stuck with this goal ever since. During his quest to be published he collected many rejection letters. But his students encouraged him and told him to follow his own advice -- "Never give up!" Finally, his first work, Hush Up!, was published in 1980.

"Writing children's books," he says, "is my way of being the teacher beyond the walls of my classroom for children that I may never know."

All of Aylesworth's stories, whether filled with sounds of a country night or catchy rhymes, find their way back to his inspiration - the young children who read them.

Jim Aylesworth and his wife Donna raised two sons in Hinsdale. In 1996, Aylesworth decided to write and visit schools full-time. The Aylesworths moved to Chicago where Jim continues to write. He travels extensively to speak to children in schools and at book events across the United States.

Visit Jim's web site at www.ayles.com

Book List:

  • Hush Up! Illustrated by Glen Rounds. Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1980

  • Tonight's The Night. Illustrated by John Wallner. Albert Whitman, 1981

  • Mary's Mirror. Illustrated by Richard Egielski. Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1982

  • Siren In The Night. Illustrated by Tom Centola. Albert Whitman, 1983

  • The Bad Dream. Illustrated by Judith Friedman. Albert Whitman, 1985

  • Shenandoah Noah. Illustrated by Glen Rounds. Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1985

  • Two Terrible Frights. Illustrated by Eileen Christelow. Atheneum, 1987

  • One Crow. Illustrated by Ruth Young. HarperCollins, 1988

  • Hanna's Hog. Illustrated by Glen Rounds. Atheneum, 1988

  • Mother Halverson's New Cat. Illustrated by Toni Goffe. Atheneum, 1989

  • Mr. McGill Goes to Town. Illustrated by Thomas Graham. Henry Holt, 1989

  • The Completed Hickory Dickory Dock. Illustrated by Eileen Christelow. Atheneum, 1990.

  • Country Crossing. Illustrated by Ted Rand. Atheneum, 1991.

  • The Folks in the Valley. Illustrated by Stefano Vitale. HarperCollins, 1991.

  • Old Black Fly. Illustrated by Stephen Gammell. Henry Holt, 1992.

  • The Cat & The Fiddle & More. Illustrated by Richard Hull. Atheneum, 1992

  • The Good-Night Kiss. Illustrated by Walter Lyon Krudop. Atheneum, 1993

  • My Son John. Illustrated by David Frampton. Henry Holt, 1994.

  • McGraw's Emporium. Illustrated by Mavis Smith. Henry Holt, 1995.

  • Wake Up, Little Children. Illustrated by Walter Lyon Krudop. Atheneum, 1996

  • My Sister's Rusty Bike. Illustrated by Richard Hull. Atheneum, 1996.

  • Teddy Bear Tears. Illustrated by JoEllen McAllister-Stammen. Atheneum, 1997.

  • The Gingerbread Man. Illustrated by Barbara McClintock. Scholastic Press, 1998.

  • Jim Aylesworth's Book of Bedtime Stories. Illustrated by JoEllen McAllister-Stammen, Walter Lyon Krudop, and Eileen Christelow. Atheneum, 1998.

  • Through The Night. Illustrated by Pamela Patrick. Atheneum, 1998.

  • Aunt Pitty Patty's Piggy. Illustrated by Barbara McClintock. Scholastic Press, 1999.

  • The Full Belly Bowl. Illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin. Atheneum, 1999.

  • The Tale of Tricky Fox. Illustrated by Barbara McClintock. Scholastic Press, 2001.

  • The Burger and the Hot Dog. Illustrated by Stephen Gammell. Atheneum, 2002.

  • The Naughty Little Monkeys. Illustrated by Henry Cole. Dutton, 2003.

  • Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Illustrated by Barbara McClintock. Scholastic, 2003.

  • Jim Aylesworth and YOU. With Jennifer K. Rotole. Libraries Unlimited, 2005.

 Text for this page is copyrighted and used with permission of the author Sharron L. McElmeel.  The text is also available at http://www.ayles.com/biography.html and http://www.ayles.com/booklist.html where this information was originally published.  For permission to republish or use this information please contact the webmaster at http://www.ayles.com.




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