August 13

Happy Birthday to Donalyn Miller!


There are many of us who have been lucky enough to be impacted by Donalyn Miller, and so we couldn’t let her birthday pass this year without a chance to celebrate what she means to us. While this entire post is a giant birthday card to her, we also hope that you, dear Nerdy reader, will channel some of Donalyn’s generosity by giving away a book of your own.  All you have to do is take a picture of the book you have chosen to give away or where you have left it (Little Free Libraries are always great) and then use the hashtag #HBDDonalyn to share it with all of us.  


Read on to see what just a few people had to say when we asked; what does Donalyn mean to you.  If you would like to share your very own birthday wishes  please feel free to leave or comment or use the same hashtag #HBDDonalyn.  


Despite her notoriety, Donalyn remains grounded and down to earth. I remember when she helped ease my nerves at  Nerd Camp, inviting me to sit with her at the first session.  Yes, Donalyn is a reading champion, an amazing writer and a wonderful Scholastic representative, but she is also a great friend. – Sara Ralph


Donalyn burst into my life seven years ago at the first Scholastic Book Fairs Reading Summit in Dallas. It was apparent then, and still, that she’s a force of nature and for doing good. Not only as an educator, but as a daughter, mother, grandmother, wife and colleague.My week is always better if Donalyn and I can spend some time talking about books and the children we serve. Here’s to many more years of contributing to our world! – Robin Hoffman


It’s impossible to capture the wonders of Donalyn Miller in a few sentences but one of MANY things I love about Donalyn is her unwavering commitment to kids and to the teachers who have the potential to impact our children in powerful and lasting ways. Donalyn works tirelessly to plant book love seeds in countless classrooms and her words inspire educators everywhere to awaken and nurture a love of books that will launch children on a life-long journey to becoming. I love Donalyn because she asks us to keep books and kids at the center of all we do by alleviating roadblocks that thwart our efforts so that we can keep our sights on what truly matters. I love Donalyn for these things… and so much more! – Mary Howard


Donalyn works tirelessly in support of what’s right for kids, is a staunch supporter of educators in their efforts, and shares her knowledge and expertise in the fight for what’s best in every classroom. She’s also one of the most badass literacy leaders I know, coming from one of the warmest hearts. Donalyn is a powerful force for good, who I’m lucky to call a friend, and I can’t wait to see what she has ahead for her next decade!  – Jillian Heise


Donalyn, your steadfast belief in teachers and students is a guiding light in my life. We may not talk everyday but your daily posts on Twitter and Facebook have shown me what it means to lead where you’re planted. Thank you for all that you do build the next generation of game-changers. You’re the real game-changer in our work. – Meenoo Rami


I have never met Donalyn. That’s sort of amazing to me because I’ve seen her speak, followed her on social media and admired her from afar. I’m inspired by her love of books and kids and reading and how she’s dedicated her life to improving all three things. She makes a difference. Now I just have to get up enough courage to say “hi.” – Pat Zietlow Miller


Donalyn is the reason I feel the way I do about reading and reading instruction. She changed my whole life and career. She is kind, passionate, giving, and not afraid to call out something if it’s wrong. We need more “Donalyns” in the world. She has not only affected thousands through her books, speaking, and online presence, but she has affected me, my school, and most importantly my students through her bravery and constant sharing. – Todd Nesloney


Donalyn’s true love for kids shines through every aspect of her work – as it has from the start.  It is infectious and reminds each of us of the joy in learning alongside the readers we serve.  Her friendship is a gift she extends openly, building communities of teachers who become family.  I am grateful every day for the impacts she has had on me, my students, and our profession. – Sara Kajder


I love Donalyn and her work because her books helped me as a new teacher start on a path of reading success. She helped me remember what it was I love about reading as a child: freedom, time, and choice; which needed to be emulated in my classroom. She is a literacy leader that this world needs, and she is a true champion of children. I am grateful to know her and call her a friend. – Jeremiah Henderson


In the Donalyn Miller Venn Diagram of “reading” vs “friendship,” everything fits right in that middle overlap: support, celebration, advocacy, inspiration, mentorship, and love. I’m better–we’re all better–because of it. -Chris Lehman


Donalyn is a generous spirit. She brings warmth and love to any room she’s in. Her passion for kids and for teachers is a gift to the Book Love Foundation and to our profession. ❤️ – Penny Kittle


You walk the talk. You are a hero, a hero to readers everywhere. I appreciate you. – Phil Bildner


I love that Donalyn is friendly and welcoming to absolutely everyone in any situation – she fosters a sense of community in a very unique and special way. I also love that Donalyn can offer up the best (and most honest) book recommendations after speaking with someone for just a few minutes. She also gives great hugs! – Erin Soderberg Downing


I love a million things about Donalyn: her boundless kindness, her thoughtfulness, her patience with others, her whole-hearted laugh, and her commitment to living her ideals, to name a few. But I am in awe of her insistence that love—of kids, of books, of everyone—be central to our work. She knows the research and best practice better than anyone, but she also knows that, without love, neither data nor pedagogy will make the difference that we need to make in the world. – Tobey Antao


Donalyn is a teacher’s teacher – as much today as when she began sharing her heart for kids and books with the world. I love her kindness, her genuine interest in others, and her humility. I use her “professional self” as a role model for my graduate students to emulate.  She is a treasured friend to me! – Steven Layne


On asking a crowd what they consider to be Microaggressions, Donalyn shouts (with her full on Texan boldness), “When the AV guy tries to take my laptop from me because he thinks I can’t set it up myself.” Donalyn embodies the spirit of strong women from the long arc of our history. She’s my Rosie. My Rosa. My Eleanor. My Dolores. My Beyoncé. Happy Birthday, sweet friend. Here’s to 50 more. – Love, Sara Ahmed


The weekend I first met Donalyn in person, I already loved her for her tweets, for THE BOOK WHISPERER, for all her passion for books and their readers. Then I heard her speak, and I loved her even more. Afterwards she was (naturally) surrounded by fans, and she graciously spoke to each one of them. When my friend Leslie Connor finally had a chance to introduce herself, Donalyn hugged her, with the best Donalyn-hug. And then, she burst into tears. “Meeting you,” she told Leslie, “reminds me of my students, and how much your books have meant to them.” – Deborah Freedman


Donalyn is first and foremost a friend. She is also one of the smartest colleagues I have. I love her passion for children, for books, for her friends. And I adore working with her. -Teri Lesesne


Donalyn set the world of education on fire with passion and knowledge. She single-handedly altered the course of my teaching career, setting it on a path I had always wanted to travel, but did not yet have the courage to walk alone. She affirmed truths about teaching, awakening ambition that had always been simmering in my soul. Knowing Donalyn as an admired author, inspirational mentor, and treasured friend is to see her embody what it means to be a lifelong learner, fierce advocate, and brave trailblazer. A very happy birthday to you, Donalyn! – Aliza Werner


We love Donalyn not only because she is a Texan of the same vintage as us, though that sure doesn’t hurt. No, we love her because she so beautifully exemplifies the possibility of finding one’s calling in this life and bringing much joy, encouragement, and inspiration to many other people in the process of pursuing it.  – Chris Barton and Jennifer Ziegler


She carries the lamp of literacy

bravely, into dark corners,

generously, letting us light our candles off her flame,


Always joyously.

  • Mary Lee Hahn


Donalyn is an exceptional educator and a wonderful human being. Her passion for students and teachers is apparent in everything she does. I could listen to her talk shop for hours. She is exactly the mentor I wish I had when I was still in the classroom. – Tracey Baptiste


I would love Donalyn anyway– for the passionate, intelligent, charismatic way she speaks publicly– even if, as crazy busy as she is, she hadn’t read an entire 300-page manuscript of mine and written me a beautiful letter about it– even if she didn’t stop wherever she was to give a hug and talk to me as if there was no one else around– Because she carries her heart in her words and her words are true. And that is why I love Donalyn Miller.  – nora raleigh baskin


Donalyn is one of the most genuine and generous people I know. If you have ever walked across a convention hall with Donalyn, you know that it takes HOURS because Donalyn stops to talk to everyone she knows and everyone who knows her.  Her work goes beyond books and reading but is really about caring for people.  Her care for teachers and students and the world is clear in all that she does.  Happy Birthday Donalyn! – Franki Sibberson


Nobody cares more about kids and the books they need. Nobody. – Linda Urban


We all know Donalyn has helped us to help kids better love books and reading. But she also gives us hope. So much hope that this world can be better than it is and that we can be the ones to make it better with our books and our students and our heart’s work. She often sees us as better than we see ourselves and knowing her is truly a gift.  – Jess Lifshitz


Because she’s bold and brave and outspoken in her mission to get ALL children access to books, and to read. And, because she’s a truly caring human. – Gae Polisner


I love Donalyn for her wisdom, her strong voice, and her big heart. She’s a steady, unblinking light in our world — a fierce advocate for stories and children, who works tirelessly to bring them together in ways that are magical and life-changing. I’m so thankful that Donalyn is here, doing the work that she does, and even more grateful that I get to call her a friend.  – Kate Messner


The Book Whisperer is always right! – Jenni Holm


Being a Leo, Donalyn truly is a lioness, hunting down the best books for readers and fearlessly blazing the trail to common sense reading practices in the classroom. She’s kind, tough, and caring. Plus, there is no one I would rather share a package of Kleenex with. – Kirby Larson


Donalyn is probably one of the busiest persons working in literacy leadership today. Her travel schedule is one I would not be able to maintain. And, yet, she will make time to respond to a message or to answer a question. She will take pause to give what she has to give, even if just a little affirmation of a new idea or encouragement during a time of uncertainty. Donalyn IS a good teacher/book friend! – Paul W. Hankins


Donalyn Miller is a great listener – which is precisely why she’s such a great leader. She cares what you have to say, whether you’re a student or teacher, writer or reader, child or adult. Donalyn makes your thoughts and opinions feel valued and understood – and that has shaped her into not just the impassioned champion of reading, books, and literacy, but a leader of people, period. – Josh Funk


Donalyn has been both a friend and mentor to me. She has given me a platform to share my voice and worked tirelessly to amplify my words. Her work has shaped my practice; more importantly, her friendship has shaped my heart. – Chad Everett


Storyteller, lover of life and always there with a word of support or a virtual hug, Donalyn’s heart lifts up the world. Her generosity in friendship is unmatched—whether dealing with Slide OCD, FOMO or a late-night counseling session, Donalyn always has time for you. Wherever she is I want to be. – Kristin Ziemke


Donalyn gave me voice and courage as a new educator. Her words, her work saved my early teaching life and sent me down a path I had not imagined for myself. Donalyn’s unwavering kindness and heart has changed my life. Anonymous Cheetah could not be prouder to call her a friend. – Stacey Riedmiller


Donalyn’s example–honoring students as individuals and empowering them as readers with community and choice–has been one of the most significant influences in my growth as a professional. I love Donalyn for all the ways she models unwavering passion and dedication to young people and literacy and the way she challenges us to take action fueled by hope and inspiration. Personally, I am appreciative of her encouragement and friendship, and I’m grateful that we’re part of the same nerdy tribe. Thank you, Donalyn! – Melissa Guerrette


When the wolves are at the door, you will want to surround yourself with people who are brilliant, courageous, direct, and honest.  
You will want to find people who devote the strength of their mind, body, and soul so that children can live better lives and help make our world a little bit better.
You will want to join together and stand with people who have the confidence to show and share a life well-lived.
When the wolves are at the door, you will want Donalyn Miller by your side.  
I am glad for all of us that she is already there. – Kevin Carlson


Donalyn makes me laugh. She has a wicked sense of humor, has taught me countless phrases I hadn’t heard before, and I know she can cheer me up if I’m having a bad day. That and her generous spirit make her an excellent friend. – Katherine Sokolowski


Donalyn saw something bigger in me than I saw in myself, and then took the time to make me see it,  for that I will always love our friendship.  How lucky we are to have Donalyn. – Pernille Ripp


I love Donalyn’s generosity. Her love of books is shared in so many forms with so many people – in the form of book-talks and giveaways – that creates a powerful ripple effect. Her generosity doesn’t end there – she is quick to point out what people do well with a kind word and encourage them. I’m blessed to have her as a mentor and a friend. – Cindy Minnich


Donalyn Miller is a genuine article. She inspires me daily to do my best to make the world a better place for kids. I couldn’t ask for a better friend. – Colby Sharp


Happy birthday, Donalyn! Thanks for inspiring us to always do what’s best for students. Thanks for giving away so many books and spreading the book love around for all. We hope you have a great day!