Happy 150th birthday to Stratemeyer, great storyteller

Thanks to the Writer’s Almanac which magically delivers a new poem to my cell phone daily via 4G around 1 a.m., I get to either start each day or end each night reading a poem. Along with the poem comes a list of famous writers with a birthday that day. Today’s list (October 4), celebrates Edward Stratemeyer’s 150th birthday. When I was a child, I read many of his books but today I didn’t recognize his name. What I could not know as a child was how important Stratemeyer was to bringing storytelling to children’s literature. Writers Almanac describes him as “one of the first American writers to capitalize on the new market in children’s literature which was created by universal primary education. At the time, most children’s books taught moral lessons.” Stratemeyer, however, had a different vision: tell gripping stories and use recurring characters in a series to capture children’s interest. So he created various series of stories with the same characters in them (e.g., the Motor Boys, the Outdoor Girls, the Bobbsey Twins). His books took off so fast that he couldn’t do all the writing himself. So he wrote the outline for each story and hired a crew of freelance writers to write the books under a pen name owned by his company. Two of his most popular series for kids were detective series ─ the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. Nancy Drew was an icon to me as child ─I read every book. Thankfully, storytelling ran in the Stratemeyer family, because when Stratemeyer died, his two daughters continued the book business. So hat’s off today to the family whose name I long ago forgot but whose recurring characters and gripping stories have stayed with me ─and no doubt millions others ─for a lifetime. The mystery of Nancy Drew (who created her…) is solved.

If you want to get a daily poem from the Writer’s Almanac: http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/

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