Douglas Wood

Author, illustrator, musician, and keynote speaker Douglas Wood is this year’s featured Hooked on Books author.

Douglas Wood is a musician and author with a love for nature and the great outdoors. His music and books reflect his passion.

Wood will be the guest author at the 13th annual “Hooked on Books...and the Arts, too!” on Saturday, Feb. 24, at Chanhassen High School.

This week Wood is also visiting District 112 third-grade classrooms, treating students to music and storytelling.

Wood lives outside of St. Cloud. Recently, he spoke by phone, answering questions about his music, writing, teaching and love of the outdoors.

Q: How did you become a children’s author?


I started as a musician with a strong interest in earth songs. I did hundreds of programs in schools and performed songs about taking care of the earth and stewardship. One day, I heard these words in my head. No music. Just words. It sounded interesting. I sat down, and in a half hour, wrote “Old Turtle.” I thought, “Who’s it for? Where will it be?”

In the meantime, I’d already written another book for adults about the windigo, a supernatural spirit from Native American culture. I’d been meeting with a publisher about that book, and dropped off the “Old Turtle” manuscript with the publisher’s wife, who read it. She interrupted the meeting. “Whatever you’re talking about, forget it and read this,” she demanded. “Old Turtle” went on to become a bestseller.

Q: What do you hope to encourage in young readers?


As a child, I had a terrible struggle learning to read. It turns out I had ADHD and a form of dyslexia. But they didn’t call it that at the time. Instead, teachers would say, “Douglas seems smart but does terrible in school.” Then I had a teacher, Miss Little, who gave me the gift of learning how to read. I’m a really good reader. But not a fast reader. But it’s not a race. It’s a matter of understanding what you read.

Q: How did your love of nature develop?


I grew up in Iowa and my family took its summer vacations on Rainy Lake, our special spot. For me as a kid, literally the 50 weeks of the year were just wasted time. I lived for the two weeks at the lake. It really set the course for my life, and my interest in the North woods. Now as an adult, we have a place one lake away. I don’t get there as much as I would like.

Q: What are your programs like for grade school children?


For a long time, I thought, “Man, I should learn to do PowerPoint.” Then I thought, “No this is what makes me different. Show kids you can communicate by being your own self, with your own voice. I love Q and A with kids and visiting with them.


Unsie Zuege is an award-winning multimedia journalist, who enjoys community journalism, bibimbop, Netflix, Trivia Mafia and snuggling tiny dogs, not necessarily in that order.