Robert Munsch: Biography & Books

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

What do a paper bag princess, smelly socks and a mud puddle have in common? One very clever children's author named Robert Munsch. In this lesson, we'll explore this storyteller's life and his writing.

Love You Forever

One of the most popular, heartfelt lines in all of children's literature started out not in a book, but as part of a song:

'I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
as long as I'm living
my baby you'll be.'

The man behind those words, Robert Munsch, has endeared himself to generations of book-loving parents and children, to the tune of more than 15 million copies sold! The singsong-y lines were borne from the grief of two miscarriages and didn't become the basis of the popular book, Love You Forever until years later.

Though Munsch is perhaps best known for this work, there's much more to this American-born Canadian author than one heartfelt little story. Let's take time to learn more about the author and look at a few of his best works.

Who is Robert Munsch?

Robert Munsch, born Robert Norman Peter Maria Munsch, joined the world on June 11, 1945, in Pittsburgh. He grew up in a family of nine children, writing poetry from an early age. His elementary days weren't a 'resounding academic success,' according to the author himself, adding that he never learned how to spell and 'graduated from eighth grade counting on my fingers.'

Munsch left high school planning to be a Jesuit priest, spending seven years studying for that calling. During that time, he also earned a bachelor's degree in history from Fordham University, and later, a master's degree in anthropology from Boston University.

A Literary Career Flourishes

A writer since childhood, it was during his time working in daycare centers when Munsch discovered his ability for storytelling. He enjoyed the atmosphere so much that he returned to college and earned a second master's degree, this time in child studies, from Tufts University. He made up his first story, later published as 'Mortimer' during this time, and moved to Canada.

Breaking into Books

When Munsch and his wife, Ann, relocated to Canada, they both landed at a preschool in Ontario. You can credit Munsch's boss' wife, a children's librarian, for planting the seed of book writing in Munsch's ear. She heard him telling stories and encouraged him to publish them. It took Munsch's boss further pushing him (and giving him time off of work) to get ten stories in print and sent to ten different publishers. One story, a book called Mud Puddle, made it into print shortly thereafter.

Munsch's success was growing and there were more books using 'real kids as characters'. The time commitment to, and success of, his writing prompted him to leave his positions in preschools and daycares. Though one could argue, thanks to his new career as a children's author, he never really left those environments entirely.

Storytelling Around the World

Still a fan of live storytelling, Munsch continued taking his tales to tots across Canada. Arguably his most popular work, Love You Forever, was published in Canada, selling 30,000 copies the year it was published (1986). It quickly became a bestseller in not only Canada, but the United States, even surpassing Goodnight Moon on the 'New York Times' bestselling children's books list in 1994.

The Love You Forever cover
Loveyouforever

Munsch Today

The success of Love You Forever launched Munsch into the children's literature stratosphere. These days, Munsch has more than 50 titles to his name. We'll dive into some of those titles in a minute.

Munsch has been candid about his personal struggles with diagnoses of bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder, as well as addictions to drugs and alcohol. In August 2008, he had a stroke that impacted his fluency and memory, but has continued writing since--albeit more slowly.

Books

Munsch's most celebrated works are based on children he's met and told stories to throughout his life. He has a star on Canada's Walk of Fame in Toronto and has been recognized with numerous awards including the 'Ruth Schwartz Children's Book Award' and the 'Vicky Metcalf Award for Children's Literature.' He is a member of the Order of Canada.

We've discussed Love You Forever, Munsch's most popular, but here are a few of his other notable titles:

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