Amelia Bedelia author visits BIC West

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Amelia Bedelia has long been a favorite character for young readers. The literal-minded housekeeper character came to life on Thursday morning at Buffalo Island Central West elementary. BIC art teacher Amber Crabtree dressed the part of Amelia Bedelia during a visit from the author Herman Parish.

Herman Parish, author of Amelia Bedelia books, visits Buffalo Island Central West elementary. Pictured with Mr. Parish is art teacher Amber Crabtree as Amelia. (Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)

Kay Taylor, director of youth services at the Craighead County Library, and Lisa Whitehead, librarian at Kohn Library in Monette, were on hand to welcome Parish whose books have been encouraging reading for over 40 years.

Whitehead said the program was made possible through an anonymous donor.

Parish was at the Craighead County Library on Tuesday evening and at BIC West on Wednesday morning.

Parish gave a brief history of Amelia Bedelia character created by his aunt, Peggy Parish. She was a teacher and knew what children liked to read. After graduating from the University of South Carolina with a degree in English she taught school in Oklahoma, Kentucky, and in New York City. Her first book, published in 1961, was followed by Let's Be Indians and in 1963 with her unforgettable Amelia Bedelia.

Author Herman Parish autographs books for students at BIC West.

Ms. Parish died in November 1988.

"I felt uneasy about Amelia Bedelia leaving our family," Mr. Parish said. "I was in the fourth grade when she first appeared. I had literally grown up with her. So I decided to try to write a new Amelia Bedelia adventure."

He had experience in writing advertisements but had to do research to figure out what made Amelia Bedelia so popular.

"My first book, Good Driving, Amelia Bedelia, took me a year to think about and one night to write," he said. I had been collecting ideas, homonyms, and expressions."

In addition to many Amelia Bedelia Books written by Mr. Parish, he has taken Amelia back to her childhood for books such as First Day of School and First Valentine.

He explained to the young students how the Amelia Bedelia books went from a rough, handwritten draft to the computer. He talked of the illustrators and how the book comes together before it goes to their hands.

"My aunt Peggy knew the importance of reading, not just her books but all reading," Parish said. "I agree with her, you need to read what you like to read and keep on reading."

Many students had brought their Amelia Bedelia books and following the presentation, Mr. Parish autographed books for the students.

Dr. Kima Stewart, west elementary principal, expressed her appreciation to Mr. Parish for taking time to visit BIC.

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