MISSOURI WRITES FOR KIDS!
HISTORY

HOW MANY BOOKS HAVE YOU READ BY THESE MISSOURI AUTHORS?

(Click on author's name, if underlined, to visit web page)

PEGGY ARCHER, O' Fallon
JOAN BANKS, Joplin
ROGER STANTON BAUM, Springfield
BRENDA "BK" BRADSHAW, Springfield
DAWNA LISA BUCHANAN, Warrensburg
J.E. CHEANEY, Bolivar
VICKIE LAYTON COBB, Galena
ANN COLEMAN, St. Louis
SYLVIA CORNETTE, Forsyth
RACHEL CRANDELL, Town & Country
PATRICIA GREGORY CURTIS, Joplin
JACKIE ENDRASKE, O'Fallon
LISA CAMPBELL ERNST, Kansas City
VICKI BERGER ERWIN, Kirkwood
JODY FELDMAN, St. Louis
SHEILA WOOD FOARD, Van Buren
CLAIRE GARDEN, COLUMBIA
JAN GREENBERG, St. Louis
CAROL GREENE, St. Louis
SANDRA URE GRIFFIN, Ballwin
VICKI GROVE, Lincoln
JANE HALE, Buffalo
CHERYL HARNESS, Independence
DAVID HARRISON, Springfield
BONNIE HINMAN, Joplin
CONSTANCE HISER, Joplin
CYNTHIA HITSCHLER, Glencoe
AMY HOUTS, Maryville
ANN INGALLS, Kansas City
LOUISE A. JACKSON, Springfield
CONNIE JOHNSON, Galena
VEDA BOYD JONES, Joplin
KATE KLISE, Norwood
KATIE LANGDON, Lee's Summit
ROBERT C. LEE, Springfield
CONSTANCE LEVY, St. Louis
KATE LIED, Kansas City
SUZANNE LIEURANCE, Kansas City
RIKI LIPE, Springfield
SHENA LITTLE BEAR, Sedalia
ROSS MALONE, Union
DEBRA McARTHUR, Kansas City
FREDRICK L. McKISSACK, St. Louis
PATRICIA C. McKISSACK, St. Louis
CAROLYN ELIZABETH MUELLER, St. Louis
DORIS MUELLER, Fenton
DORINDA NICHOLSON, Independence
ARIELLE NORTH OLSON, Webster Groves
LINDA Y. NOWAK, St. Peters
LINDA PARKER, Lee's Summit
ANOLA PICKETT, Kansas City
KRISTIN JOY PRATT, St. Louis
VASHANTI RAHAMAN, Rolla
JEANIE RANSOM, O'Fallon
CYNTHIA REEG, St. Louis
STEVE RIDEOUT, Blue Springs
EILEEN BLUESTONE SHERMAN, Kansas City
T. A. SIGAFUS, Gainsville
LARRY SHLES, St. Louis
AMY E. SKLANSKY, St. Louis
CHRISTI SORRELL, Fenton
PAULA SORRELL, Nixa
JEAN STRINGAM, Springfield
MARK SUMNER, Arnold
CHRISTINE TAYLOR-BUTLER, Kansas City
IONE THORNHILL, Richland
KELLY WARDLE, Willow Springs
JUNE RAE WOOD, Windsor
MARCIA WOOD, St. Louis
LESLIE J. WYATT, Clinton
JUDY YOUNG, Springfield
JUDY DOCKREY YOUNG, Kimberling City
RICHARD YOUNG, Kimberling City
DEBORAH ZEMKE, Columbia


Last Updated November 2, 2012

Return to Top


A Brief History of
MISSOURI WRITES FOR KIDS!

by Sandy Asher
adapted from Missouri Library World, Winter 1998

Please note: Since publication of this article, Drury College has become Drury University and MISSOURI WRITES FOR KIDS! has become a project of the Drury University School of Education and Child Development.

It was the sort of moment that makes all the hard work worthwhile: I was in Eldon, Missouri, talking to a group of fifth graders, when a young man at the back of the classroom raised his hand. "Do you remember that book you held up on TV--Wild Timothy?" he asked. "I went to the library the next day and checked it out. It was good!"

No doubt about it, Wild Timothy is a good book. Not only that, it's one of several written by Gary L. Blackwood of Carthage, and one of more that 300 written by authors currently living in Missouri. I happened to be holding it up on TV because of MISSOURI WRITES FOR KIDS!, a project of the Writers Hall of Fame supported by the Springfield-Greene County Library and Ozarks Public Television. The project is designed to introduce young readers--and their parents, librarians, and teachers--to all the good books written by Missouri neighbors. According to that fifth grader in Eldon, it's working!

The idea of using short TV spots to highlight the work of state authors came to me while driving home from publicizing a completely different project of the Writers Hall of Fame, based in Springfield. As a member of the WHOF board of directors, I'd just been interviewed on TV about a writing retreat for senior citizens we were cosponsoring with Drury College, and I began to wonder how we might use TV time to do something for our youngest citizens as well.

By the time I reached my office, I had the new project's name--MISSOURI WRITES FOR KIDS!--and much of its format in mind. We could contact Missouri authors who had trade books in print or available in the library and ask them to donate autographed copies. We could then feature their books on TV and give them away as prizes to young people who wrote in and told us about their favorite books by Missouri authors. Perhaps we'd celebrate authors' birthdays or authors-of-the-month. Lists of authors and books could be distributed in libraries. Maybe we could do posters. Might bookstores get involved? How could we interest parents, teachers, librarians?

As my typed notes grew longer and longer, it became obvious that I had as many questions as answers. This nebulous "we" I kept referring to needed to be brought into focus to help iron out the details. I first approached fellow children's author and Springfieldian David Harrison, who pronounced the idea "charming" and agreed to share the responsibilities involved in making it happen. Together we presented the concept to the Writers Hall of Fame. The response was encouraging from the first and remains so a year later. "The Writers Hall of Fame is very enthusiastic to be one of the supporters of this project," says president Jeanne Duffey. "MISSOURI WRITES FOR KIDS! fits right into our mission of stimulating interest in writing among young people and recognizing established authors."

Annie Busch, executive director of the Springfield-Greene County Library District, also saw the project's potential and agreed to the system's support of its efforts. "MISSOURI WRITES FOR KIDS! is not only a highly visible and effective way to encourage children to read," she says, "but it also makes children realize that authors can be your next door neighbors. As important is the fact that the project brings awareness to children that they, too, can become authors."

Personal interaction--one writer speaking directly to one reader, one reader choosing to give that writer his or her full attention--is among the many unique qualities books offer. What better way to make that uniqueness apparent to young people than to forge a connection between them and the "real, live" authors in their own state?

Spurred on by the responses of the Writers Hall of Fame and the Springfield-Greene County Library, David, Jeanne, and I pressed ahead. I compiled a list of authors and wrote scripts, Jeanne sent out letters requesting donated books, David made arrangements with Fox 27 at first and, more recently, with Ozarks Public Television to tape and air the spots. Books poured in from all over the state, along with the good wishes of their authors. David and I rehearsed and bravely faced the cameras. MISSOURI WRITES FOR KIDS! began to air, randomly dotting the schedule from morning to night. And, sure enough, children responded with letters hailing their favorite Missouri authors, living and dead.

David Harrison and Sandy Asher
David Harrison and Sandy Asher display books by Missouri authors.

Some Missouri authors are already well known and inspire many letters, but it soon became obvious others would need a bit of a push. Included now are spots I call "Discover Another Missouri Author." David and I read briefly from a book, mention its title, and invite kids to go the library and read the rest. Teachers are also encouraged to send in packets with an entire class's letters and become eligible to win six autographed books for their school library.

The work continues. Posters inviting children to write letters and flyers with a list of authors' names have been placed in all Springfield-Greene County Library branches and in Waldenbooks, Heritage, Hastings, and Barnes & Noble stores around town. An updated list of titles available in area libraries is being prepared. Letters will also go out to area schools inviting class packets of letters. Dan Schiedel, Ozarks Public Television's director of production and corporate communications, recently expressed his organization's continuing commitment: "Ozarks Public Television is proud to support MISSOURI WRITES FOR KIDS! Literacy and preparing children for learning are among public television's key goals. We feel that by working with Sandy and David in this educational venture, we can better serve our viewing audience and help build interest in lifelong learning and literacy."

During Children's Book Week in November, David and I got to meet "our viewers" when we presented programs in three branch libraries, book-talking the work of Missouri authors. We'd been warned that patrons often show up for special programs, enjoy them, and then depart without ever visiting the bookshelves. Not so with MISSOURI WRITES FOR KIDS! "The young people in our live audiences leave their chairs to come up for a closer look at the display books by Missouri authors," David recalls. "They often settle down for a good read right on the spot. When we stop speaking, some return, maybe two or three times while we're packing our things, to check the titles of their new favorite books. Then they hurry back out to look for them in the library stacks. This is all great fun."

Indeed it is! And it's been a learning experience for the two of us. "Telling kids about other people's books has made me more aware than ever that Missouri authors not only write for kids," David says, "they do it with style." I wholeheartedly second that vote of confidence.

MISSOURI WRITES FOR KIDS! is on the road now, a regular feature on Ozarks Public Television and in traveling live programs--David and/or me, the books, posters, and flyers, making the rounds of libraries, schools, conferences, and festivals, including the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's Write to Learn Conference, the Warrensburg Children's Literature Festival, the Missouri Association of School Librarians and Missouri Council for the Social Studies state conferences.

"Exciting kids to read is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a children's author," David has told me, and everyone involved so far agrees that MISSOURI WRITES FOR KIDS! has become a particularly rewarding way to do just that. In the letters we've received, in the libraries we've visited, in that classroom in Eldon, we've seen and rejoiced in the project's impact. The word is out: MISSOURI WRITES FOR KIDS!

Return to Top

MISSOURI WRITES FOR KIDS!
is a project of the Drury University School of Education and Child Development.

Drury University

It is supported by

Springfield/Greene County Libraries
Springfield/Greene County Libraries

and


Library System of Lancaster County



SafeSurf Rated All Ages
Return to Top