Let’s be honest

Renowned children’s author Robie H. Harris ’62 will visit campus on Tuesday, April 12 to talk about her approach to writing for children.

The talk,  titled “Let’s Be Honest: The Creation of Fiction and Nonfiction Children’s Books,” will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Woolley Room in Mary Lyon Hall. Her remarks will be followed by a book signing.

Harris is noted for writing children’s books that address sensitive topics like sexuality, family dynamics and diversity. She is perhaps best known for It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health, which was originally published in 1994.

Praised by many for its clear, straightforward and humorous approach to the subject of sex, It’s Perfectly Normal is one of the most banned books of the previous two decades, according to a National Public Radio report on the 20th anniversary of its publication.

“To me it wasn’t controversial,” Harris told NPR. “It’s what every child has a right to know.” The book is scrupulously accurate. Harris asks health experts to fact-check each edition of the book before it comes out.

At Wheaton, Harris was an English major and the editor of Nike, the college yearbook. She attended graduate school and began working as an elementary school teacher at the Bank Street School for Children in New York City.

Later, she joined two other children’s book authors as members of the Bank Street Writers Laboratory, where they wrote a song and the opening segment for the ABC show Captain Kangaroo.

Harris’s own career as a children’s book author began when she was asked by an editor she had worked with previously to write a book about HIV/AIDS for elementary school children. That has led to over 25 books on a variety of topics, all for children.

Harris has received numerous awards for her work. It’s Perfectly Normal was a New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year and has been translated into 28 languages.

“What I love to write about are the real and powerful feelings children have and the ways in which they express those strong, legitimate and perfectly normal feelings,” she has said.

The talk is sponsored by the Dale Rogers Marshall Visiting Artists Program Endowed Fund within the Evelyn Danzig Haas ’39 Visiting Artists Program.

 –Adam Kilduff ’16