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  • Writer's picturePerry Robinson

Words to Live By: Kelsey Timmerman

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

Words to Live By features exclusive interviews with authors, artists, and community members.



Kelsey Timmerman is the New York Times bestselling author of the Where Am I? series: Where Am I Wearing?, Where Am I Eating?, and Where Am I Giving?. Kelsey has reported from more than 60 countries and written about topics such as sweatshops in Bangladesh and slavery in Ivory Coast. He educates audiences and readers through humor and storytelling, and encourages them to think globally and act locally. He is also a founder of The Facing Project, a national community storytelling nonprofit that has collected more than 1,500 stories. Kelsey’s next book on regenerative agriculture will be published by Patagonia Books. He seeks to create understanding and empathy through stories that inspire action.

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Is there a book or genre that stands out in your memory from your youth?


Adventure. Fiction or Nonfiction. I wanted to escape the Midwest.


What kind of reader were you as a child?


I grew up in rural Ohio. The nearest bookstore was an hour away. But we had a small city library with amazing librarians. We'd come out with stacks of books. I'd read them in my clubhouse, which was in a grove of trees in the middle of a field of corn. I read a lot. This was when Pizza Hut had the Book It program. Reading books = free pizza!


What are three children's books you think should be on every child's bookshelf?

Illustration from "What Do You Do With an Idea?"

The Lorax, Yertle the Turtle, What Do You Do with an Idea.


Book Harvest is proud to practice Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop's theory of "Mirrors, Windows, Sliding Glass Doors," which states that in order to become avid readers and reap the full benefits of lifelong literacy, children have to see both themselves and worlds beyond their own in the stories they read.

Is there a book that you saw yourself reflected in as a child? Or one that opened new worlds for you?


Any book where someone went on an adventure away from a place where nothing happened to somewhere where a lot happened. Obviously, that describes a lot of books. We had this amazing collection of illustrated classics. They were books like Journey to the Center of the Earth, Huckleberry Finn, The Time Machine, War of the Worlds, and Treasure Island, but they were rewritten for kids and had a picture on every other page. I could read a classic in a day. That hooked me and helped me realize there were worlds beyond the flat fields of the Midwest. Later I graduated to Tolkien, which inspired a love of hiking and traveling.


What kind of books are on your bookshelf?

I read a lot of nonfiction from serious books on the problems of our world to essays by David Sedaris. But I also love Science Fiction (Andy Weir) and Fantasy (Robert Jordan, George RR Martin). A favorite recent addition is a signed copy of Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer.


What are you reading currently?


Geek Love by Katherine Dunn.


What is your favorite place to read?


Swing on my back porch.


Who is your favorite all-time character from a book?


Huck Finn.


If you could have dinner with three authors from any period in time, who would you pick?


Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, Mary Shelley.


What are the children in your life currently reading?


My 14-year-old daughter is reading Fairy Tale by Stephen King. My son is twelve and reading a Dog Man book by Dav Pilkey.



A Vonnegut Illustration

Do you have a favorite quote from literature? If so, what is it?


“I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different.” - Kurt Vonnegut.

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