(Please note that the following profile was compiled by IPL staff who corresponded with this author in 1996. It has not been updated since. Those wishing to write to this author should not write to the IPL, as we do not have a way to contact him via e-mail. They should write him in care of his publisher at the following address: Children’s Publicity; 1540 Broadway; New York, NY; 10036. The address is also listed on his official web site at: http://www.garypaulsen.com/ )
I would have been an intellectual idiot without the library. I was a miserable student and flunked the ninth grade and finally graduated from high school with probably a D-average. I had a miserable home life and I would sell newspapers to the drunks at the local bars to make a little money. I went into a library one night in a small town in northern Minnesota to get warm and the librarian asked me if I wanted something. I said, no, I just wanted to warm up a little.
At that point, very few people had ever given me anything. Both my folks were drinking and it was a rough run. And then she said, "Do you want a library card?" So I said yeah. She handed me a card with my name on it– my name– which was amazing to me. And then she asked if I wanted a book. I said, "Sure," kind of cocky. And she said to bring it back when I was done and she’d give me another one.
This went on for a long time. The librarian kept giving me books; at first it took me a month to read a book, then two weeks, then a week, and pretty soon I was reading two books a week. She’d give me Westerns and science fiction and every once in a while she’d schlepp in a Melville. It saved me, it really did.
I still read like that, like I tell kids, like a wolf eats. I read myself to sleep every night. And I don’t think of any of the good things that have happened to me would have been possible without that librarian and libraries in general.
Gary Paulsen is a three time Newbery Honor Winner and he and his wife Ruth Wright Paulsen, an artist who has illustrated several of his books, divide their time between homes in northern Minnesota and La Luz, New Mexico.
Some of Paulsen’s books are:
THE WINTER ROOM
CULPEPPER ADVENTURES SERIES AGES 8-12
GARY PAULSEN WORLD OF ADVENTURE SERIES AGES 8-12