David Harrison

David HarrisonPoet Laureate

(417) 873-7616
: Lay Hall, Room 303

David L. Harrison, Litt.D., was named Poet Laureate of Drury University in 1983 by President John Moore and continues to serve in that capacity. David earned his bachelor’s degree in science from Drury in 1959 and was elected student body president his senior year. He completed his master’s degree in parasitology at Emory University in 1961 and was presented the Sigma Xi Award for outstanding research.

David’s writing career spans six decades. During that time he has also been a pharmacologist at Mead Johnson in Evansville, Indiana, editorial manager for Hallmark Cards in Kansas City, and a businessman in Springfield.

David’s eighty-nine books for young people and teachers have received dozens of honors, including the Christopher Award.  His work is widely translated and anthologized. His poems have been sandblasted into a library sidewalk in Phoenix, adorned a bookmobile in Pueblo, Colorado, and inspired the popular school play, SOMEBODY CATCH MY HOMEWORK. The Missouri Librarian Association presented him with its Literacy Award for the body of his work. He holds honorary doctorates of letters from Missouri State and Drury universities. A room in The Library Center and David Harrison Elementary School are named for him. His wife Sandy is also a Drury graduate.

David’s most recent project at Drury is a collaboration with the School of Education and Child Development that produced the DVD series, LET’S WRITE THIS WEEK WITH DAVID HARRISON. His office is in Lay Hall.

What Does Our Poet Laureate Do?

  • Works with School of Education and Child Development staff and administration on what would serve them best.
  • Creates opportunities to present via Internet to students in schools beyond our area, such as Kansas City and St. Louis.
  • Speaks to Drury senior or graduate classes about the field of children’s literature in general and poetry in particular.
  • Annually visits students at three Springfield (area) schools.
  • Co-hosts an on-campus workshop for teachers who want to introduce poetry in their classrooms.
  • Co-hosts an open mike poetry event for Drury students.
  • Co-hosts a program featuring Drury students on KSMU during National Poetry Month in April.
  • Writes articles for the paper about the importance of poetry at home and in the classroom.
  • Is interviewed in 417 Magazine on the role of a university poet laureate.
  • Meets with Springfield Public School leaders on how Drury’s poet laureate can help them.
  • Meets with leaders of state teaching and librarian associations on how Drury’s poet laureate can help them.
  • Considers how Missouri’s state poet laureate and Drury’s poet laureate might work together in some way.


Selected for the 2017 NCTE Award for Excellence in Children's Poetry

Now You See Them, Now You Don’t: poems about creatures that hide.  David L. Harrison. Illus. by Giles Laroche.  2016. Charlesbridge


On this year’s Texas Bluebonnet Master Reading List along with 19 others. Texas children are reading titles on the list to vote for their favorite. Last year 191,000 students cast their votes.

On next year’s Young Hoosier Book Award Master Reading List along with 19 others in the intermediate category. Last year 73,000 students voted.

Mammoth Bones and Broken Stones (published in September)

Nominated for one of the two SAA 2010 book awards—“a book that is written for the general public and presents the results of archaeological research to a broader audience” ( Harrison’s book targets 4th-7th graders (ca. 9-12 year olds), a most-important age group that rarely receives nonfiction attention in this medium from the archaeological community. It is this age group that experiences tremendous intellectual development, when children begin to read to learn (rather than learn to read), start to think critically, and display a burgeoning curiosity about everything. Mr. Harrison has done a tremendous service for our discipline by focusing on this age group and introducing an up-to-date story full of concepts, facts, and current issues.

At Pittsburg University, the book is part of required reading for next semester taught by Dr. Anthony Boldurian, Professor of Anthropology and Director, Archaeology Program . “It may interest you to know that next semester I am teaching for the first time a newly-developed course, directed specifically for majors in the Science Teacher-Ed program. The course, Science + Prehistory ?Archaeology (note the rip-off on a chemical equation….my cheap attempt at creativity), is designed as a pedagogical approach to teaching teachers-to-be about how to instruct archaeology in the Science classroom (elementary & secondary levels).  My main point in sharing this news with you is that one of the texts I have for required reading is your MB&BS ! The class is topped-out at 35 students, so hopefully it’ll help in some small way to boost sales for you.”

“My Book,” poem from Somebody Catch My Homework

Reprinted as the featured poem to start Chapter Two: “Learning about Reading and Literature,” in the latest edition (7th) of Essentials of Children’s Literature.
Selected by the City-County Public Library System in Pueblo, Colorado to be lettered around their new bookmobile. Pueblo City-County Library District is in the process of creating a bookmobile-type of vehicle that will be driving out to several underprivileged/underserved communities in Pueblo County. The purpose of the van is to provide positive experiences with books, reading and the library. We find in these little communities that people are often intimidated to come into the “big building” and it eases their fear to deal with a van and one library employee at a time. As trust builds, we invite them to their own special event at the library and get them acclimated with the resources our physical library has to offer. Our graphic designer came up with the attached design. It includes David L. Harrison’s poem, “My Book,” from his book of poetry called “Somebody Catch my Homework.” We think it sums up perfectly how we want kids to feel about books and the buildings that contain them. Thank you very much for your consideration of this request. We would be very grateful for permission to use the entire poem on the library’s new van and encourage a whole new group of people to experience public libraries and the joy of reading.

The Book of Giant Stories

Permission requested from Lithuania to translate the book.

Dear Mr. Harrison,
I am writing to you from the publishing house “Alma littera” in Lithuania. We are very much interested in translation rights of “The Book of Giant Stories”. Do you handle the rights yourself or do you have an agent? Please give me the contact details if I should get in touch with somebody else.
Yours sincerely,
Ingrida Dubauskiene
Rights Manager

Dylan the Eagle-Hearted Chicken

Selected by Zaner-Bloser for their Voices in Reading Program.

I just returned from speaking at NCTE in Orlando where I presented Word of the Month Poetry Challenge, my ongoing blog challenge to adults and students to write a poem each month inspired by the single word I issue. Voting started today for the November poems.

On December 12-15 I’ll be in Paterson, New Jersey at three schools to provide professional development for teachers and work with their students. I’ll continue the work later on Skype.

I’m excited about the new program for Drury, to be called This Week with David Harrison. We have a team of four working out the details for a regular 7-8 minute program that teachers can bring into their classrooms nationwide. The central theme will be literacy and each week I’ll offer tips and ideas about writing and reading.

This Sunday is the kickoff for a city-wide book drive for preschool children, which is part of Family Voices (another project with Drury). We have the CD featuring 34 books read by 17 readers ready to give to parents who agree to come to announced sites to record their own voices reading to their young children. More about that later. The project is going to be written about in IRA’s national newsletter, Reading Today.

Spotlight: David L. Harrison

David Harrison's poetry performed by Byron Biggers Band

The Byron Biggers Band recently performed David Harrison's poetry to music at the Reading Roundup Book Fair at Barnes and Noble.  Jana Bachus' recordings of the recently performed songs are provided below.