“When I get up in front of a library or auditorium full of kids, I’m of the mind this could be the first and only time they ever get to meet and interact with a real life author. I feel it’s my duty – my moral responsibility – to rock their world. It’s my duty to motivate and inspire.”
Phil Bildner is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous books for kids. His latest book is the groundbreaking, #OwnVoices middle grade novel, A High Five for Glenn Burke. He is the author of many children’s picture books including the Margaret Wise Brown Prize winning Marvelous Cornelius, the Texas Bluebonnet Award winning Shoeless Joe & Black Betsy, Martina & Chrissie, Twenty-One Elephants, and The Soccer Fence. Phil is also the author of A Whole New Ballgame, Rookie of the Year, Tournament of Champions, and Most Valuable Players in the critically acclaimed middle grade Rip & Red series.
Phil grew up in Jericho, New York, a Long Island suburb of New York City. He studied political science at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland and then attended law school at New York University School of Law. After passing the bar in New York and New Jersey, Phil worked as an associate at a large Manhattan law firm, but he quickly realized the legal profession wasn’t for him. So he followed his heart and went back to school, earning a master’s degree in early childhood and elementary education from Long Island University.
For eleven years, Phil taught in the New York City Public Schools. Teaching fifth and sixth grade in the Tremont section of the Bronx in the 1990s, he built an innovative ELA curriculum around song lyrics and music. Dave Matthews, Barenaked Ladies, Blues Traveler, Lauryn Hill, and Wyclef Jean all visited his classroom. Teaching middle school English and American History in Manhattan in the 2000s, Phil continued to integrate music and the arts into his curriculum, working with the Lincoln Center Institute, Broadway shows (Wicked, 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), and Off-Broadway shows (Def Poetry Jam, De la Guarda).
After leaving the classroom to write full time, Phil began chaperoning student-volunteer trips to New Orleans to help in the post-Hurricane Katrina recovery effort. He founded The NOLA Tree, a non-profit youth service organization and served as the co-Executive Director.
These days, Phil lives in Newburgh, New York with his husband in a two hundred year old farmhouse. Most of the time, you’ll find him out in the yard playing with his dog named Kat or writing on the back porch (aka, his office) overlooking the Hudson River.
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