"I'm a Writer who Mushes"
Born May 17, 1939, Gary Paulsen is one of America's most popular writers for young people. Although he was never a dedicated student, Paulsen developed a passion for reading at an early age. After a librarian gave him a book to read — along with his own library card — he was hooked. He began spending hours alone in the basement of his apartment building, reading one book after another.
I listened to Gary Paulsen speak at a symposium. He told a little more detailed version of his story. Both of his parents were alchoholics and he stayed away from his home as much as possible because there was a fair amount of physical abuse. One night he was out wandering the streets and it was very cold. He saw a light on in the public library and thought it might be a place he could get warm. Being a "terrible student" he had never been in the library. The librarian noticed him and not only helped him get a book but gave him a library card. Because he was such a poor reader it took him weeks to finish that first book. When he finally did, he went back to the library and got another one. He improved his reader one book at a time.
Running away from home at the age of 14 and traveling with a carnival, Paulsen acquired a taste for adventure. A youthful summer of rigorous chores on a farm; jobs as an engineer, construction worker, ranch hand, truck driver, and sailor; and two rounds of the 1,180-mile Alaskan dog sled race, the Iditarod; have provided ample material from which he creates his powerful stories.