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Nancy Larrick (1910-2004) Biography

children books education reading

OBITUARY NOTICE— See index for SATA sketch: Born December 28, 1910, in Winchester, VA; died of pneumonia November 14, 2004, in Winchester, VA. Educator, editor, and author. The founder of the International Reading Association, Larrick was a champion of literacy who also wrote and edited books that promoted better reading skills for children. After completing her undergraduate work at Goucher College in 1930, she became a public school teacher in Winchester, Virginia, finishing her master's degree at Columbia University in 1937. As an eighth-grade English teacher, Larrick was very involved in her students' home lives, and she learned that the more parents were active in their children's education the better readers their kids became. This discovery would influence her beliefs in education for the rest of her life. During World War II, she worked as an education director for the U.S. Treasury Department, and after the war she became involved in publishing as an editor for Young America Readers. Larrick's next job was at the publisher Random House, where she was education director in the children's book department from 1952 until 1959. Having earned her doctorate in education from New York University in 1955, she later joined the faculty at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in 1964 as an adjunct professor, retiring in 1979. Much of her time after leaving Random House, however, was spent writing and editing books. Larrick began publishing books with her cowritten Printing and Promotion Handbook (1949; third edition, 1966). She was best known, though, for her books that offered guidance to parents and teachers in helping their kids to read. Among these works are A Parent's Guide to Children's Reading (1958; fourth edition, 1975), A Teacher's Guide to Children's Books (1960), and A Parent's Guide to Children's Education (1963). As an editor, Larrick published over a dozen poetry anthologies for children, including You Come Too: Poetry of Robert Frost (1959), Piping Down the Valleys Wild (1967), and Crazy to Be Alive in Such a Strange World (1977). Noticing that too much of children's literature being published and promoted was written by white authors, she emphasized that teachers should bring more minority-written stories to the attention of their students. She also founded the International Reading Association, an organization that now has chapters in about one hundred countries. Widely recognized by her colleagues for her success in promoting literacy, Larrick received many honors in her lifetime, including being named to the Reading Hall of Fame in 1977 and being named to the list of "Seventy Women Who Have made a Difference in the World of Books" by the Women's National Book Association in 1987.

OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Chicago Tribune, November 22, 2004, Section 1, p. 12.

New York Times, November 21, 2004, p. A33.

Washington Post, November 27, 2004, p. B4.

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