I want to talk about my books for teachers, #1

Hi everyone,

The 2020 publications of two books for classroom teachers brings my total to 13 such publications over the last 21 years. Most people who know me at all probably think of me as a trade book writer, but a few teachers and college professors recognize my work in education. I’ve decided to take some blog space to introduce or reintroduce you to my “other” books and will be grateful if you’ll share this with the elementary teachers in your lives. Thank you in advance.

In the 1990s I decided that in order to build my name recognition among emerging teachers, I needed to get their attention while they were still in college. I approached my editor at the time, Bernice Cullinan, with the notion of doing a book together. Bee was also a national figure both as a professor at NYU and as a former president of International Reading Association, which at the time was attracting 15,000 – 20,000 teachers from the United States and abroad to the annual IRA conferences.

Turned out Bee knew what she knew about poetry and I knew what I knew, and we didn’t always agree about what we knew. The partnership became acrimonious and nearly ended our relationship, but eventually it all worked out and the book found a good home in lot of classrooms. I remain proud of what we created. The book, EASY POETRY LESSONS THAT DAZZLE AND DELIGHT, was published by Scholastic Professional Books.
Here’s a favorite reader review.
“Of the many poetry instruction books I have read, this one is the easiest to use. The poetry used is by well-known talented poets and of high quality. My class of children responded well and as predicted by the authors. This is the only book I have found that discusses both formal verse and free verse in an enjoyable, nonbiased format. Its list of recommended reading is detailed without being overwhelming. I wish I had this book years ago!”

Literature and the Child

Hi everyone,

I’m glad to report that the 9th edition of LITERATURE AND THE CHILD has just been released (January 1) by Wadsworth Publishing. It weighs in at 521 pages with a list price of $199.95. Lee Galda, Lawrence R. Sipe, and Lauren A. Liang are the authors.
It’s my pleasure to be in this edition too. I don’t remember when I began to be included in this grand resource book but it was at least a few editions ago. I’m grateful to Bernice Cullinan for selecting me originally and to Lee Galda for keeping me in the lineup.

How do you reinvent yourself and your career?

Hi everyone,

Jane YolenHere’s another question for summertime discussion suggested by Jane Yolen. “How do you reinvent yourself and your career?”

Has anyone gone through this? I have twice, the first time in my fifties. I won’t go into details because I’ve told the story before, but during the six years I served on the Springfield board of education, from 1982-1988, my writing took a hit. I only produced one worthwhile story in those six years and seriously worried that my career was over.

At the end of my service I decided to change my direction as a writer and reinvent myself as a poet. It was a relatively easy decision because I didn’t think I had much to lose. I chose poetry. I already knew most of the mechanics and had published a smattering of poems but for the next three years I focused on writing nothing but poems.

I had no plan, no strategy, no general theme. I simply wrote, read about poetry, wrote, read about poetry, and wrote.

At the end of that period I shared my total collection of 100 poems with an editor at Boyds Mills Press. I was offered a multi-title contract, beginning with SOMEBODY CATCH MY HOMEWORK, which was published in 1993.

The second time I reinvented myself came in 1996, only three years later. Maybe this wasn’t exactly a reinvention but it did lead to new opportunities. I decided that I wanted to become involved with professional books published for teachers. I think the motivation came from the six years I’d recently spent on the school board coupled with the frequent visits to schools I’d been doing since the 70s.

I partnered with Bernice Cullinan and we wrote EASY POETRY LESSONS THAT DAZZLE AND DELIGHT. Since then I’ve co-authored with several wonderful teachers and professors to create a dozen titles and four others are in the works. That change nineteen years ago has led to finding a new niche plus numerous opportunities to address audiences of educators at state and national conferences.

Jane, I know that you also work in several genres and recently said that you yourself hardly know how to classify yourself as a writer. So there may be a down side to wearing many writing hats. Conversely, a new challenge can reinvigorate a writer, get the juices flowing again and, in time, perhaps lead to a new fan base and expanded opportunities.

What say you?


David L. Harrison tomorrow

I have intended to take a shot at being my own guest and this seems like a good time. You can learn a lot about my background by checking around my website — and I certainly hope you will — and you can Google me, but here’s a bio that I usually send to conference chairs and others who ask for information.

My topic tomorrow is about manuscript development from the creative phase through the submission process. I hope you’ll find useful information in my remarks. See you tomorrow.

David Harrison’s first book for children (The Boy With a Drum), was released in 1969 and eventually sold over two million copies. In 1972, David won national recognition when he received the Christopher Award for The Book of Giant Stories.

Since then David has published seventy-seven original titles that have sold more than fifteen million copies and earned numerous honors. He has been anthologized in more than one hundred books and appeared in dozens of magazines and professional journals. His work has been translated into twelve languages and presented on television, radio, cassette, and CD-ROM.

David’s poetry inspired Sandy Asher’s school play, Somebody Catch My Homework, which has been produced in the United States and abroad. Jesse and Grace, a fourth-grade best friends’ play in poetry, has been praised for its “honesty of characters and use of art and music.”

David’s SKY HIGH ON READING program was the International Reading Association’s nationwide winner in 2001. The Missouri Librarian Association presented him with its 2007 Literacy Award for the body of his work. Among David’s professional books are, Easy Poetry Lessons That Dazzle and Delight, with Bernice Cullinan (Scholastic); Using the Power of Poetry to Teach Language Arts, Social Studies, Math, and More, with Kathy Holderith (Scholastic); “Yes, Poetry Can,” the poetry chapter for Children’s Literature in the Reading Program (3rd Edition, edited by Deborah Wooten and Bernice Cullinan; 7/09, IRA); Partner Poems for Building Fluency: 40 Engaging Poems for Two Voices With Motivating Activities That Help Students Improve Their Fluency and Comprehension, with Tim Rasinski and Gay Fawcett, (Scholastic, 8/09); and Phonemic Awareness through Poetry Play, with Mary Jo Fresch, (in progress, IRA).

In the last fifteen years David has been a keynote speaker, banquet speaker, featured speaker, featured author, or presenter at eighty state, regional, and national conferences in twenty-seven states. David holds science degrees from Drury and Emory universities and honorary doctorate of letters degrees from Missouri State University and Drury University. He has an elementary school named for him and is poet laureate of Drury. He lives in Springfield, Missouri with his wife Sandy, a business owner and retired guidance counselor.