The Missouri Reader WINTER ISSUE Vol. 44, Issue 1 - Page 11



David L. HarrisonFor the Fun of It


How Songs and Poems Help Your Children Learn to Read

Eric Litwin

Asking myself questions like these and imagining the answers led to the first paragraph in Promise, my favorite, if I had to choose one, of all my books.

"If Kaden had gotten the dog he wanted for his eleventh birthday, it would have barked when the man walked up the narrow path from the road. The man would have wondered how a dog got trapped in the top of an abandoned fire tower. He would have tried to rescue it, and Kaden’s secret hiding spot would have been discovered instantly. But the man took no notice of a crow cawing incessantly from the window of the fire tower. Kubla was much better than a watchdog if you really wanted no one to notice you."

So, my advice to all aspiring to write, young and old, is to read, notice the world around you, find something that interests you, catch that lightning bolt, get your seed for your story. And then think, question, imagine. I won’t mislead you—it isn’t always easy. It will be frustrating, it will take time, it will take rereading and rewriting, over and over. It’s like riding a bike—sometimes you’ll be smoothly coasting downhill, sometimes struggling up the hill, sometimes you’ll be wandering around not knowing where you are, but only by pumping away at those pedals will you ever be able to get where you are going.

As an author, I’ve had the honor to speak at over a thousand schools and educational conferences across the nation and although I’m hoping to motivate and encourage my audiences about reading and writing, I am the one who is truly inspired, to know my words are being read and enjoyed by so many.

Judy Young is an award-winning author of twenty-nine children’s fiction, nonfiction and poetry books. Two of her most cherished honors were having R is for Rhyme, A Poetry Alphabet performed by the University of Utah’s Tanner Creative Dance Theatre and A Pet For Miss Wright being read by LaVar Burton for Reading Rainbow Video. Born, raised and living most of her adult life in Springfield, Missouri, Judy now resides in the mountains of Idaho with her husband, Ross, and their dogs. When not writing, Judy can be found outdoors, hiking, camping, fishing and snowshoeing. Read more about Judy, her books and her educational programs for students and teachers at

See the next two pages to find out more about Judy and her work.