Bill Martin, Jr.
Date of Birth : Mar 20, 1916
Date of Death : Aug 11, 2004
William Ivan Martin, Jr. was an educator, publishing executive, and author of more than 300 children's books including, The Sounds of Mystery, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See?, Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See?, and Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?.
The Bill Martin Jr. Award, which is the Kansas state award for best children's picture book, was established in his honor in 1996.
Martin was born and raised in Hiawatha, Kansas. His father was a paperhanger and his mother a housewife; he was one of 5 brothers. He had difficulty reading until he went to college, at the Kansas State Teacher's College in Emporia, Kansas. There he memorized poems that a teacher read aloud in class, and was then able to relate the words to what was on the page. Enthusiastic about helping other children learn to read by "[having] language inside of themselves," he went on to earn a doctorate in early childhood education from Northwestern University in 1961.
After graduating with his bachelor's degree, Martin taught journalism, drama, and English at high schools in Newton and St. John, Kansas.