Author, storyteller and speaker promotes kindness through humor
Article and photo by Lisa Nicklanovich
Author and Castle Pines resident Justin Matott writes for all ages weaving themes of empathy, kindness, humor, silliness, understanding and creativity through his more than 30 published books. After his first book My Garden Visits, which he wrote as a personal journal as he was processing the passing of his beloved mother, Matott went on to write picture books, chapter books, comic books, poetry and a coming-of-age book, to name a few.
Matott grew up in Fort Collins and was adopted by loving parents who were both English professors at Colorado State University. As a child, Matott would tell stories at the table to the delight of their frequent dinner guests. Many of Matott’s books are based on personal experiences, from Ol’ Lady Grizelda, which is based on a neighbor in Fort Collins, to I Think My Dog Might be a Nerd and I Think my Cat Might be a Geek, which are meant to take away the power of name-calling.
Matott is an anti-bullying advocate, teaching how humor can diffuse a bully’s influence and empower the recipient. As a fourth-grader, Matott wore a leg brace and an eye patch and was brutally bullied by three boys. Matott said, “My dad told me I was super funny and should make them laugh.” This tactic worked and the bullies became his protectors. Matott speaks at many school assemblies and he tells the students, “The bully requires one thing from you and that’s your power. Own your power.”
Matott often showcases his books at farmers markets, and it gives him the chance to connect with his readers and get feedback on his work. Kids love to comment on the jokes and hidden animals in his picture books, and parents and grandparents enjoy his books just as much.
“I love getting comments from dads who say that after reading one of my books, they will share their own stories of growing up and that it brings their family together,” Matott shared. A former attendee of one of Matott’s school presentations stood at Matott’s farmers market stall as an adult, calling him his hero. The day of Matott’s presentation years ago had changed the young man’s life. “I know I am doing what I was put on this earth to do,” Matott exclaimed.
Recently inducted into the Colorado Author’s Hall of Fame, Matott’s books are available on his website, www.justinmatott.com, and his newest books, which are a clever mix and match stories illustrated by Laurie McAdam, are available at the Wild Rose Boutique and Postal Center in Castle Pines and in Lone Tree.