David L. Harrison
Springfield, MO, US
I was four when I memorized and recited on stage the Gettysburg Address, six when I began writing poems, eight and nine when I lived on a farm. What an author writes comes from the experiences of a lifetime. The Missouri boy who filled his room with snake skins, insects, turtle shells, fossils, and books grew up to be a public speaker, a scientist, and an author of stories and poems, often about nature. I liked school so school shows up in my books, too, particularly the humorous ones such as Somebody Catch My Homework. My education and background in science prepared me to research and write my own series of Earth science books called Earthworks.
Making up poems in first grade set me on a path that eventually led to Bernice Cullinan at New York University with whom I wrote a Teaching Strategies book called Easy Poetry Lessons That Dazzle And Delight. This book is meant for those who want to teach poetry in elementary school but need help getting started. I wrote a follow-up book with third grade teacher Kathy Holderith of Littleton, Colorado about using poetry as a teaching tool. That one is called Using the Power of Poetry to Teach Language Arts, Social Studies, Math, and More.
I believe that writing, like reading, should begin as a fun activity. That’s why I wrote Writing Stories to help students improve their writing skills. In it I offer students twenty-five “secrets” to help them write better fiction. Acting as their personal guide, I share my own discoveries about creating ideas, getting started, making time to write, and all the tricks of putting the elements of a story together. Children’s authors have a unique opportunity to share what we’ve learned about writing with teachers and students. In Writing Stories, I show students the value of revising and rewriting and dedicate one entire chapter to the art of ending a story well.
After more than sixty published books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, I have lots of stories to tell kids about where my ideas come from and how they turn into books. Some of my poems have been set to music so during school presentations I’ve been known to break into song. When I’m not traveling to conferences or schools, I write seven hours a day six days a week.
My four best sellers together have sold more than four million copies. My books have won the Christopher Medal, Kids’ Choice picks, Bank Street Book of the Year selection, Kentucky Blue Grass nomination, Best Book for Young Adults nomination, and Michigan Reading Association Readers’ Choice list. One of my poems — “My Book” — is sandblasted into the sidewalk in Phoenix at the Central Library’s Children’s Garden. It was selected because it catches the excitement of reading. I’m proud of that. Not many can claim to published in concrete.
David Harrison currently lives in Springfield, Missouri.