Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 17, 2019

Special Opportunity: Celebrate The 50th Anniversary of David L Harrsion’s Children’s Writing Career

Special Opportunity to Celebrate The 50th Anniversary of David L Harrsion’s Children’s Writing Career

David is giving away two books AND THE BULLFROG SINGS and A PLACE TO START A FAMILY to one lucky winner who leaves a comment and follows Writing and Illustrating, extra points if you follow or sign up to follow David’s blog or re-post this on twitter/facebook/or you own blog.

On top of that anyone who initiates a school visit from David will receive a collection of David’s books –  NOW YOU SEE THEM, NOW YOU DON’T; A PLACE TO START A FAMILY; AND THE BULLFROG SINGS; CRAWLEY SCHOOL FOR BUGS; plus two teacher books: 7 KEYS TO RESEARCH FOR WRITING SUCCESS and RHYMES FOR THE TIMES. In addition, that person will be able to choose one of the books listed for their own library.

Here is the link to this book’s feature:

Here is the link to this book’s feature:

Here is the link to this book’s feature:

Here is the link to this book’s feature:

For those of you who would like to initiate a school visit, you can request and letter from David that will provide details on his visit. Here is his email:

David was recently featured in SPRINGFIELD-NEWS LEADER written by Juliana Goodwin. It is an excellent article.

More than 50 years ago, David Harrison was in the shower when these words started marching through his head: “There once was a boy with a little toy drum. Rat-a-tat-tat. Rum-a-tum-tum.”

Harrison, a former trombonist, toweled off and sat down to write his first children’s book and one of his best-selling works of all time.

“The Boy with a Drum” was published Oct. 1, 1969, and celebrates its 50th anniversary this fall. In its first decade in print, it sold more than 2 million copies.

“I am proud of 50 years of contributing to children’s literature,” Harrison says from his Springfield home. “I didn’t see all these years pass, and all of a sudden, here they are. My head is full of stories of books.”

Stories appear everywhere in everyday life: he penned a book about raccoons when raccoons invaded his attic; he’s working on a story about an earthworm after he found one stuck to the bottom of his newspaper one morning.

“I am a storyteller. I love telling stories,” the 82-year-old says.

You never know what will strike his imagination.

That imagination has led to 96 published books, 101 under contract, and another dozen penned that he’s yet to sell.

His poetry, fiction and nonfiction for young readers have been anthologized in more than 185 books, translated into 12 languages, and presented on television, radio, podcast, and video stream. He also writes books for teachers.

Not bad for an untrained writer.

A long path to his dream

A scientist by nature, Harrison holds an undergraduate degree in biology from Drury University and a master’s in parasitology (the study of parasites) from Emory University. While at Drury, he took a creative writing course and loved it. His professor told Harrison he showed great promise as a writer, and it planted a seed in his mind.

After graduation and the birth of his daughter, he couldn’t find a job in his field, but he found work at Mead Johnson & Company, in the pharmacology lab testing organic compounds on animals.

He was miserable.

At night, he’d write articles and send them off.

A slew of rejection letters followed.

While he didn’t enjoy his job, they wanted to promote him and put him on track for a Ph.D. Harrison decided he needed a career change and wanted to return to Springfield or get as close as possible. He drew a map around southwest Missouri and sent off queries to more than 50 companies in the Midwest.

After six years and 67 consecutive rejection letters, he sold his first story to a magazine for $5.07.

After that, a woman asked if he also wrote children’s books, which planted the next seed. He began brainstorming ideas, and eventually “The Boy with a Drum” came to life.

His third book, “The Book of Giant Stories,” won a Christopher Award, which was established in 1949 for media that “affirm the highest values of the human spirit.” Harrison chuckles because at the time he had no idea it was such a prestigious distinction, although it’s now one of his highest honors.

In 1973, Harrison moved back to Springfield to take over the family business, Glenstone Block Company. With his wife, Sandy, an educator, and children Robin and Jeffrey in tow, they came back to their roots. While running the company, he continued to pen children’s books and poetry, waking up early to write before work and returning to the keyboard when he got home.

By the 1980s, his books had sold more than 13 million copies.

In 2008, he sold the family business and realized his dream of becoming a full-time writer.

A champion for the community

But Harrison’ contributions go beyond children’s literature. Through the years, he’s been a champion for literacy and this community.

He is former president and member of the Springfield Board of Education; former board member of the Foundation for Springfield Public Schools; and he was a member of the board of trustees at Ozarks Technical Community College.

He initiated Sky High on Reading in 1998, a literacy project designed to encourage students to read as many books as possible during the school year. Students throughout southwest Missouri read 2.2 million books during the first year. The program received credit by the Springfield school district’s then-superintendent for helping to raise reading scores across the system.

Harrison helped start the Foundation for Springfield Public Schools and the annual teacher appreciation banquet, and he was also heavily involved in Reading Roundup, established in 2006 to provide financial support for Springfield’s school libraries.

Children's author and poet David Harrison talks about his life and the books he has written during his career at his home on Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019.

Children’s author and poet David Harrison talks about his life and the books he has written during his career at his home on Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019. (Photo: Nathan Papes/Springfield News-Leader)

Harrison partnered with author/playwright Sandy Asher to create Missouri Writes for Kids, a television and internet program that promotes literacy which has now expanded to America Writes for Kids.

Harrison partners with various educators to write books for teachers, too. He has partnered with Laura Robb, a renowned educator, author and speaker, for a series of books designed for children who are at least 2 years behind in their reading level. It’s challenging because he may create a story for an eighth-grade intellect but with a sixth-grade vocabulary.

His speaking skills are sought after around the country.

An upcoming release includes a book about underground creatures.

“We walk around all the time and don’t think about what we are stepping on, but there’s an entire world underneath our feet. It’s fascinating,” Harrison says.

Despite his success, Harrison still receives more rejections than acceptance letters, and that’s just part of the game, he shrugs.

With 50 years of perspective, Harrison says children’s literature, particularly fiction, has changed significantly.

“Half a century ago, you could tell a story for the sake of a story,” he says. “Children learned vocabulary, imagination, entertainment. Today, stories have to be issue-oriented, noisy, silly. The purpose is to address a national concern or political issue. I regret that. I disagree with the loss of literature, stories for the sake of entertaining or sitting back and reading with mom and dad.”

DON’T MISS THIS OPPORTUNITY TO WIN THIS SPECIAL BOOKS GIVEAWAY FOR YOU AND YOUR SCHOOL. Email David at: You can visit his blog at: and his website at: 

Talk tomorrow,



  1. what lovely books

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations — so happy to have had the opportunity to meet you and learn from you in person at Chautauqua!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a wonderful interview and legacy for David to share with the world. We are all blessed to have had his poetry out in the world for all to enjoy. Congratulations, David. I am posting on FB and tweeting as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you, Kathy, for posting about me today and helping me celebrate my 50th anniversary. And thanks to all who read this and leave a comment and/or share the post elsewhere. I’ll only have this anniversary one time!


  5. Your first story sold for $5.07? They must have paid you extra for the headline!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s so funny. Gave me a god laugh.


  6. Congratulations to David. What a gift he has been to all of us.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. David is truly a gem!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Congratulations, David. All the kids thank you for so many wonderful books. And thank you Kathy Temean for this wonderful piece about David’s writing career.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow! What a significant body of work! This was a fascinating interview. Thanks, Kathy. Congratulations, David! Thanks for all of your contributions to the world of literacy.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Congratulations on a wonderful writing career. Wishing you all the best.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you, David for giving so much to children through your stories, poems, and literacy campaigns! Best wishes!

    I shared on twitter!


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