Matthew Gollub is a multi-talented children’s author and speaker. He has produced 20 picture books, which have garnered dozens of national awards and distinctions. His movin’, groovin’ Jazz Fly books with audio (including Jazz Fly 3: The Caribbean Sea) feature his narrations set to jazz music. Other popular books he’s written take place in Mexico and Japan where he has also lived.
A dynamic drummer and bilingual (English / Spanish) presenter, he has performed at over 1,000 elementary schools, across the U.S. and abroad, inspiring students and families to read for fun. He speaks English, Spanish, Japanese and “jazz.” (He even learned a bit of French for Jazz Fly 3!) Speaking different languages helps him connect with diverse audiences—and with the illustrators and musicians with whom he collaborates on books.
“Language, rhythm, color, life!” is his philosophy that guides his creative work. When he’s not publishing books or delivering live talks, he loves reading, traveling, jazz drumming, swimming and land sports. “Chasing bouncing balls” could be his mantra when playing tennis and basketball!
He lives with his family in Northern California, about an hour north of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Care to read more? Here’s a letter Matthew wrote for students about how he got interested in writing….
“Though I wasn’t what you’d call a bookish kid, I knew from the 5th grade that I liked to write. My 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Brunk, took the trouble to type a story written by everyone in the class. Then she helped us bind the pages into homemade books. My story was not particularly well-written, but when some of my friends read it, they cracked up. I had discovered the joys of composing words that elicited belly laughs from my peers. From then on, next to shooting baskets on the playground—and drumming my fingers on my desk—writing was the activity for me!
When I was 14, I had the opportunity to spend the summer with a family in Quito, Ecuador. After years of struggling in junior high Spanish, I suddenly had to get along in that language. With my patient hosts’ encouragement, the grammar and vocabulary that had so confounded me in class finally began to untangle.
A voyage to the Galápagos and bus journeys through the jungle ignited my lifelong love of travel.
Small wonder that when I arrived at college, I was thrilled to find opportunities to study overseas. I graduated from the University of the Pacific with a degree in International Studies, lots more Spanish, and a second major in Japanese language.
Do you also know words in a language other than English? Have you ever tried using them in the stories you write?
Overseas studies led to overseas jobs—as a copywriter, newscaster, and touring member of a Japanese taiko drum troupe. Eventually, these experiences, and a lifelong love of jazz drumming, inspired me to write and publish books–including The Jazz Fly books about “The Jazz Bugs.”
Hint for young authors: including your own jazz words can give your stories zing! Do you za-ba-zoo? Can you skiddily ding bop?
I wouldn’t say it’s easy to write books. But when I take the time to enjoy the words and sentences, re-writing my stories fifteen, or even twenty times, isn’t a chore. Writing is still the activity for me. And I still like drumming with my hands or sticks. But now I prefer to play basketball in a gym.