More pictures, please

Hi everyone,

I need more pictures to post on Family Voices ( After the first ask I received some tremendous shots of parents, grandparents, and even a big brother reading to littles. It was a wonderful start, but I want a much larger collection — dozens, hundreds. I want diversity. Please send me pictures of families all over the world, reading to their children. To some who follow my blog — Shan Shanti, Kenneth Tumusiime, Silindile Ntuli-Nxasane, Zafar Rashid, Richard Lungu, Pote Chinavarakul, Zivka Llic, Lupupa Mumba Msisha, Daniela Alejandra Fuentes, Jhadijeaart A. Hassan and many others — if you have pictures you might share, or know someone in your country who can, I extend a special invitation. Closer to home, I invite my gay friends and friends of color to help me present a full story here. Also, please consider following Family Voices to lend your support and widen the circle of potential readers among young parents and those who are in positions of influence.

We can talk until we’re blue about the importance of reading to our kids, but nothing tells it like a good picture. It doesn’t matter who is doing the reading. One mother we recorded for Family Voices brought her small child and his big brother. In broken English she explained that she didn’t read English well but her son did, and so Mama held the little one and looked on proudly while big brother did the reading.

I sometimes state in the post who the people in the picture are (when I have them) though usually I use the picture without identification and add a few words of my own to go with it.

If you have an anecdote of your own about the reading, or a good quote about the importance of reading to children, or supporting evidence in a book, journal, etc., I would love to hear it. Maybe I can use it with the picture. In any case I would like to have the names in case I do use them, and for sure I need permission in writing to allow me to use the picture. Again, many thanks.

My supervisor is having a birthday today!

Hi everyone,

My wife — aka Sandra, aka Sandy, aka Sandy Sue, aka M.O.W., aka She Who Must Be Obeyed, aka My Love — is celebrating her birthday. I have no idea how old she is so I’ve learned not to ask.

I DO know she hasn’t aged since I’ve known her and that spooks me some. One night I think I heard her muttering incantations over something bubbling on the stove, but she denied it and convinced me I was dreaming. So here’s the thing. I don’t question my good fortune to have joined hands with her a few years back and I hope today turns out to be a birthday filled with love, joy, family, and friends.

Happy birthday, Sweetheart. I love you.

Poetry Tip #3, The Line: Length and Endings

Hi everyone,


Back again with another poetry tip. Please remember that these tips do not begin to fully cover the topics included. They are only meant to provide quick insights and guidance. They are more like crib notes or executive summaries. If they whet your appetite to learn more, there are plenty of good books on poetry.

Last time I talked about the importance of word placement within lines of poetry. We can emphasize what we want to convey by where we place key words and phrases. The end of the line is the strongest position, the middle is the weakest.

Today let’s look at the lines themselves. Poetry is written in lines and lines are grouped into stanzas. The length of the line influences how we read the poem aloud. In verse a traditional way to measure the line is by counting the number of stressed syllables. The kind of poetic foot (iambic, anapestic, trochaic, dactylic — Tip #1) establishes the meter. The meter and number of feet in the line are key factors in fixed forms such as a limerick or ballad stanza.

Two feet = dimeter

A flea known as Ralph
Swallowed a cow
(bugs, poems about creeping things)

Rain is pouring
(Somebody Catch My Homework)

Three feet = trimeter

Bradley always answers,
We hate it when he answers,
(Somebody Catch My Homework)

To you it’s only homework,
But I’m half wild with fright
(Somebody Catch My Homework)

Four feet = tetrameter

Since Mama bought this stupid horn
I hate the day that I was born
(A Thousand Cousins)

Bumping at the windowpane
He fought against the solid air
(The Alligator in the Closet)

Five feet = pentameter

The termite never eats the way it should,
It’s not his fault, his food all tastes like wood.
(bugs, poems about creeping things)

I’m going to pound the cover off that ball!
I’m going to blast it clear outside the park!
(The Mouse was Out at Recess)

Most modern verse is told in lines of five feet or fewer but now and then you may encounter a need for longer lines.

Six feet = hexameter
Seven feet = heptameter
Eight feet = octameter

Iambic pentameter that doesn’t rhyme, known as blank verse.

I’ve never seen old man McGrew in person.
(People call him that behind his back.)
(The Purchase of Small Secrets)

Another important duty of the line is to tell the reader when to pause and when to keep reading. Punctuation at the end of a line signals the conclusion of a thought or a convenient spot to breathe or take a millisecond timeout to relish and consider the meaning of what was just read. That kind of line is called end-stopped; not very imaginative but descriptive of its duty.

Said Mrs. Towers to Mr. Reeds,
“Why do you water those wretched weeds?”
(The Boy Who Counted Stars)

Other lines are free of signals that the reader should tarry at the end so without hesitation we continue on into the line that follows. The thought being expressed is usually incomplete at the end, which further encourages us to rush ahead.

Said Mr. Reeds, “Well, don’t you know
That blue-ribbon weeds need water to grow?”
(The Boy Who Counted Stars)

Tip for next week: punctuation, capitalization, and syllabic vs. accentual lines.

The webinar with Jen Murvin at Pagination Bookshop

Hi everyone,

For anyone interested, here’s the link to the webinar I did on June 11 with Jen Murvin at Pagination Bookshop.

The event was part of Pagination’s ongoing Virtual Author Events Summer Series. The store has a number of my titles in stock so you can order online or send Jen an email at
and you can pick up your new books curbside! Click here to shop online:”

Warning: I didn’t realize the recording had started while I was chomping up the last of a throat lozenge and getting myself arranged for the event. Viewer discretion advised. (:>

An interview and a new book

Hi everyone,

This morning at 10:00 I’ll do a ZOOM interview with Jody Anderson for the Henry County Library in Clinton, Missouri. My thanks to Jody for using a virtual visit to build a bridge over the gap created by the pandemic.

On another matter, I’m pleased to see the book with Laura Robb, due out in September, is now posted on Amazon. Here’s a peek at the cover and some of the reviewers’ comments.

“The power of intriguing texts, purposeful reading, and development of independence in reading are the keystones of this book. Teachers will find guidance on how to snag the interest of middle school students with content texts especially written by David L. Harrison and woven into compelling lessons by Laura Robb … An outstanding resource!”

“What is essential for reading growth? David Harrison and Laura Robb provide guidelines and tips for schedules, routines, instructional practices and lessons that increase students’ reading skill and self-confidence with proven sustained growth by real students in real classrooms.”

“Laura Robb is a legend in the field of literacy and the years she has dedicated to serving and educating shine through in this gem!… I greatly appreciate the focus on using real, relevant, and accessible texts to drive classroom learning. As such, Harrison’s writing amplifies the “engagement factor” of each lesson.”

I’m eager to see this new title come to the education market. I can’t believe we’re this close to September already. Yikes!