mo willems with a classroom full of kids

Celebrating Mo and Cher Willems

Every May, the First Book family celebrates the Month of Mo and all the amazing stories that Mo Willems has brought to our network educators and their students. We celebrate with giveaways, Marketplace credits for teachers to stock their bookshelves, and by rereading our favorite Elephant & Piggie adventures.

As an author, Mo has brought so much joy to children. Through his stories of Elephant and Piggie and again with his Pigeon series, Mo has created characters that help children recognize their feelings, while simultaneously engaging them as a young reader. For many educators, Willems has given them a tool that helps them better connect with young students. Don’t take our word for it though, hear it and see it.

Beyond the Books

Mo & Cher Willems standing together in front of a colorful wall.

While we love the stories Mo tells, his impact goes beyond the books as he and his wife, Cher Willems are one of First Book’s amazing donors. We sat down with Mo and Cher to find out why First Book, why they donate, and perhaps most importantly, what they would talk about if they could sit down to lunch with one of their characters.

What about First Book’s mission speaks to you?

Books are more than stories on paper, they’re friends who invite readers to join them on adventures.  Helping kids make book-friends is a joyful endeavor.

You generously donate to first book. Why? What would you tell someone who is thinking about supporting first book’s work?

Helping to get an age-appropriate book into the hands of a young reader who might not otherwise have access is more impactful than you can imagine, even if you can imagine a giant space whale who eats planets for breakfast.

What are you reading right now?

Mo is reading a cultural history of Neanderthals (Kindred: Neanderthal Life Love Death & Art by Rebecca Wrass Sykes). Cher is reading a novel about a young woman working with horses in 1918 (The Heart of Horses by Molly Gloss). Between chapters, we like to share our enthusiasm for our literary choices.

First Book serves over 500,000 educators that work with kids in need. These educators purchase books and resources out of their own pocket daily for their students. What encouragement would you pass along to these educators?

Thank you, thank you, thank you, we work towards and hope for a day when every classroom will be generously stocked with wonderous books, until then, thank you, thank you, thank you.

If you could have lunch with your characters, what would you talk about?

The Pigeon would focus on negotiating another book starring him.

Support Us

We believe every child should have equal access to quality education. For nearly 30 years, fueled by generous donations from hundreds of thousands of supporters like Mo and Cher Willems, First Book has made a direct impact on the lives of millions of children in need.

Today, we serve 1 out of every 3 classrooms or programs with low-income student, but we don’t do it alone. First Book’s network of educators is the largest of its kind. Over 500,000 classroom teachers, summer and early childhood program staff, librarians, community advocates, care providers, and more – all working together to build a more promising future for children and families in need.

If you’re an educator, and eligible, join our network. If you’re not an educator, but love our mission, and want to help support the work we do, consider donating today. You can make a direct donation, join our book club, or find a way to donate that’s right for you.

image of a young woman laying in the grass, smiling and reading a book. There is light blue boxes with purple text that say, 'Share Your Favorite Summer Read for Our New Online Album. Take a selfie with your favorite summer read and upload it by July 22 to celebrate our First Book family and the work we’re doing together! Send your selfie.'