Author Larry Brimner stressed the importance of reading during a visit with area children Oct. 4-7 as part of the annual Literacy Awareness campaign sponsored by Southwest Missouri State University-West Plains.
An estimated 4,500 students from 17 area elementary and middle schools met with Brimner at the West Plains Civic Center during his four-day visit.
Brimner, who has written over 110 children's books, currently has homes in Arizona, California, Florida and Colorado. He was born Nov. 5, 1939, in St. Petersburg, Fla., and spent his childhood years exploring Alaska's Kodiak Island, according to Brimner's Web site. It was during this time of his life that Brimner said he developed his love of reading, explaining that reading and telling stories were the main forms of entertainment on the island. Because of his love for reading Brimner pursued and earned a bachelor of arts in British literature from San Diego State University and advanced degrees in writing and curriculum development.
It was during his 20-year teaching career that Brimner began writing for publication. He made his debut as a children's author in 1987 with the publication of BMX Freestyle, which was named an International Reading Association Children's Choice Book in 1988. He followed that success with his book Country Bear's Good Neighbor, which was named "Pick of the List" by the American Booksellers Association.
Other Brimner publications which have earned recognition include A Migrant Family, named a Noble Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies; Max and Felix, a nominee for the Kentucky Bluegrass Award; Voices from the Camps, cited as a Best Book for the Teen-agers by the New York Public Library; Snowboarding, an IRA Children's Choice for 1998; and The Official M&MŽ Book of the Millennium, an IRA children's choice for 2000.
The Literacy Awareness Campaign, which is in its 11th year, is aimed at eradicating illiteracy in Howell County and the surrounding area through awareness and education, according to Janice Johnson, coordinator of SMSU-WP's Academic Support Center. As part of the campaign, SMSU-WP faculty and students went to area schools to read to classes and talk to students about the importance of being able to read. In addition, schools were given copies of the books that were read.
Johnson said she would like to thank the campaign's sponsors for their donations toward this worthy cause. They include Meeks Building Center, Wood & Huston Bank, Serendipity Bookstore, West Plains Bank & Trust Co., The Book Nook, Ozarks Medical Center, The West Plains Daily Quill, West Plains Distributing, Radio Shack, Community First National Bank, Howell County Bank, West Plains Order of Eastern Star, CenturyTel, Robertson-Drago Funeral Home, Sylvan Learning Center, St. John's, St. Francis Hospital of Mountain View, Ramada Inn, West Plains Savings and Loan, and the West Plains Optimist Club.
For more information about the literacy campaign or the literacy services available to the community through ASC, contact Johnson at 417-255-7940.