Writers Hall of Fame

Hi everyone,

Many of you who live near Springfield may have already received the news release below about this year’s inductee into Writers Hall of Fame: Ridley Pearson. I hope you are already making plans to attend the gala event.
NEWS RELEASE: Ridley Pearson Wins 2013 Quill Award
Ridley Pearson, prize-winning co-author of the mega selling Peter and the Starcatchers as well as many other best- selling novels, has been awarded the 2013 Quill Award by the Writers Hall of Fame. The award will be presented to Pearson at the Quill Award Gala, Saturday, March 2, at The Tower Club. A limited number of tickets for the hors d’oeuvres buffet event are available for $35 each; tables seating ten are available for $300 per table. In addition to Pearson’s comments on his experience as a writer, the event will feature both live and silent auctions. All proceeds will fund scholarships awarded by the Writers Hall of Fame to promising young writers from area high schools. For tickets or further information, contact Kathy McQueen ( kathyd54@gmail.com or 368-1231).


At each of our award banquets we hold an auction to raise scholarship funds. This year I’m blessed with a number of new books coming out so I asked my publishers to provide copies for the auction and they’ve all been generous in their support. If you attend the banquet, I hope the following descriptions will help you decide which items might be right for you.

A Perfect Home for a Family

This new picture book from Holiday House stars a pair of raccoons with an urgent need to find a roomy, quiet home. The twins are due! Mama and Papa finally find a roomy, quiet attic, only to discover that they have a people infestation below their floor

The story begins like this:

“What’s that?” said Mama.
“What?” said Papa.
“That,” said Mama.
“Oh no,” said Papa.

Chaos and a happy ending ensue. Beautifully illustrated by award winning Italian artist Roberta Angaramo.
$16.95. I’ll sign it if you wish.
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Learning through Poetry

I co-authored a set of five 136-page books for Shell Education with Mary Jo Fresch , professor of education at Ohio State University. My job was to create poems to demonstrate the language sounds that children learn to recognize as they develop reading skills. Here’s how the books are described by the publisher.



This must-have PreK-2 resource features short vowels and supports phonemic and phonological awareness through activities around level-appropriate poetry! Original poems are introduced and feature a corresponding lesson that includes two cross-curricular connections. The strategies provided in Learning through Poetry include phonemic matching, phonemic isolation, phonemic blending, phonemic substitution, and phonemic segmentation. Take-home activities are included to encourage linguistic interaction with friends and family members, which is especially useful for English language learners and their families. This book features digital resources that include activity pages, poems, family letters, and an audio recording of each poem. This resource supports the Common Core State Standards.

The five titles in the series are:
Each book is priced at $29.99 so the set of five has a value of $149.95. The 5 CDs contain a total of 96 original poems.
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Let’s Write This Week with David Harrison

This is a hands-on, interactive, creative writing program that brings me into your classroom to help teach students how to write. This program is designed for use in grades 3-5, but can be used in later grades if desired.

The Let’s Write kit includes the following items:

 A two-disk set that contains 20 whiteboard lessons in which David Harrison talks directly to the students and leads them through the creative writing process.

 20 Student Journals (co-written with Drury University’s Laurie Edmondson) that provide headings to help students organize their thoughts and enforces consistent writing habits.

 The Teacher’s Guide (co-written with Laurie Edmondson) includes lesson plans specific to the 3 titles included in the kit, along with generic lesson plans for poetry, fiction and non-fiction writing.

 Three book titles are included in the kit. They are:
Dylan the Eagle-Hearted Chicken: A baby chicken hatches in an eagle’s nest.

Farmer’s Dog Goes to the Forest, Rhymes in Two Voices: Ever-curious Dog has questions in verse for his new forest friends
Earthquakes: What causes the Earth to quiver and shake? This basic introduction explains why the Earth’s surface sometimes moves.

Ruth Culham (of 6 +1 Traits of Writing fame) wrote the foreword. Here’s an excerpt: “David Harrison knows how to coach writers like few others. He’s a natural. And now, with this project, you get to have David in your classroom as often as you want. What could be better than having him at your side, helping you teach and support student writers so they achieve what often seems out of their grasp: writing well and enjoying the process. You’ll find this series instructive and practical. It’s both inspiring and original. There is nothing else like it in today’s teaching world featuring tips, lessons, and ideas galore that are central to David Harrison’s core philosophy: Let’s Write.

Priced individually, the components of LET’S WRITE THIS WEEK WITH DAVID HARRISON total $600. Buying it as a kit, the price is $499.00.

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Buy Me at Auction

We tried this idea at last year’s banquet and raised $1,500, which is the equivalent of three $500 scholarships. I’ll go to a school (within easy driving distance) designated by the highest bidder and speak to students about writing. My talk will include many of the ideas in LET’S WRITE THIS WEEK WITH DAVID HARRISON. My standard speaker’s fee is $2,500 so someone might get a bargain. If you are interested in helping a school host a visit by me, please come prepared to bid. If you know others who might like to consider this, please pass the information along. This is all done in the spirit of nurturing young writers.

Bidding starts at $500

I hope to see some of you at the Award event to honor Ridley Pearson!


Word of the Month poems

Hi everyone,



Hi everyone,

My thanks to Mary Jo Fresch for sharing these recording session pictures from her camera. I’ve already talked about the purpose for being there but wanted to post these because they’re so much better.

Tomorrow is the last day to post your Word of the Month poems so be sure you don’t forget. Friday starts a new month with a new word. Thanks to Steven Withrow, it’s a dandy.

I think it’s about time for another J. Patrick Lewis challenge. Tomorrow I’ll ask him if he has something else up his sleeve. Jane? Steven? Anyone else have a challenge for us? Let’s hear from you.

It’s also high time for another round of CAPTION THAT CARTOON. So Rob Shepperson, if you’re reading this, be prepared for another of my whiny requests.

More anon,


California sunset


Hi everyone,

Here’s a picture of sunset from Newport Beach near Huntington Beach where we visited Shell Education/TCM headquarters and also near the studio where we made the recordings. Mighty pretty country they have out there!

By this Friday, LEARNING THROUGH POETRY, the 5-book series co-authored by Mary Jo Fresch for Shell Education, will go to the printers. LET’S WRITE THIS WEEK WITH DAVID HARRISON (with a teacher guide and student journal co-authored by Laurie Edmondson) for Phoenix Learning, went to the printers last week. The poem I wrote for this year’s Highlights poster is being illustrated as we speak and the new picture book for Holiday House, A PERFECT HOME FOR A FAMILY, is now available through Amazon.com. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to IRA this year.

Today I hope to finish an article for Post Road, a contemporary literature magazine affiliated with Boston College. I’m working there with Daniel Cattolica. His sister, Sara Johnson, is editorial director for Shell Education. Talented family!


Back to work

Hi everyone,

Fun’s over. I loved my time with the folks at Shell/TCM in California. It’s a great organization and I learned much (again) from their summit meeting of educators from around the United States and abroad. I came home with many new ideas for future books and hope to see at least some of them become reality.

I’ll post a few pictures later today. For now, it’s time to go across the street for the paper and then settle down to writing.


Recording my poems

Hi everyone,


This rather cave-like shot is of Mary Jo Fresch and me yesterday in a recording studio in Huntington Beach, California. We spent the day recording 96 of my poems for a series of five books that will be out in April. The books are being published by Shell Education and co-branded by International Reading Association. If I get a better picture, I’ll exchange it for this one.

This is part of the reason why I announced over a year ago that I had a killer writing schedule that would be taking most of my time for quite a while.  This series won’t be released until April but it’s already posted on Amazon and Barnes & Noble under Learning through Poetry.

My co-author for these books, collectively called SOUND BEGINNINGS, is Mary Jo Fresch, Professor, Teaching and Learning, Ohio State University. We’ll also be presenting together at the upcoming IRA conference in San Antonio. SONY DSC

The series revolves around phonemic awareness and phonological awareness. Phonemic awareness is the beginning state of phonological awareness. The former is the ability to hear and manipulate the separate phonemes (distinct units of sounds) of the language. The latter encompasses not only the manipulation of phonemes but also words, syllables, and onsets and rimes.

Each poem was written to demonstrate a particular sound so I started each one by assembling a list of words that contained the desired sound and then went looking for a poem hidden somewhere in that list. Shades of Word of the Month! Mary Jo wrote the lessons for students to play with the words from the poems, then connected a content and art lesson to every poem. A letter for the parents provides support so they can play at home.

Each of the five titles will have a CD attached in the back that reflects the poems featured in the book. And that’s what Mary Jo and I were doing yesterday.