Wilson Rawls

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Woodrow Wilson Rawls
Born (1913-09-24)September 24, 1913
Scraper, Oklahoma
Died December 16, 1984(1984-12-16) (aged 71)
Occupation Author
Nationality American
Genres Children's novels

Woodrow Wilson Rawls, (September 24, 1913 – December 16, 1984) was an American writer best known for his books Where the Red Fern Grows and Summer of the Monkeys.

Childhood[edit]

Teen years and early adulthood[edit]

When Rawls was fifteen, the United States economy entered a depression, prompting his family to leave their Oklahoma home for California; however, the family's convertible broke down near Albuquerque, New Mexico, where Rawls's father found a job.

As an adult during the 1930s and 1940s, Rawls became a carpenter and traveled to South America, Canada, and Alaska. He wrote five manuscripts during this period, including Where the Red Fern Grows. Rawls's original manuscripts contained many spelling and grammar errors. Because of this, he kept the manuscripts hidden in a trunk in his father's workshop.

In the late 1950s, Rawls worked for a construction company on a guided missile range in the Southwest. Later, he transferred to a construction site near Idaho Falls to work on a contract for the Atomic Energy Commission. Rawls lived in a cabin near Mud Lake. While working there, Rawls met his future wife, Sophie Ann Styczinski, a budget analyst for the Atomic Energy Commission. The couple married on August 23, 1958.

Later adulthood[edit]

Even though Rawls's novels received much praise, he was perhaps most influential as a motivational speaker. Rawls visited 2,000 schools in twenty-two states before being diagnosed with cancer in 1983. Although Rawls and his wife had no children, he felt that he had many children in his fans. He once commented,

"Children are always asking me what advice I can give them on trying to be a writer. I always tell them to do a lot of reading, read and study creative writing, then start writing and keep writing and then they can be a writer too. Someday they will make it if they don’t give up."

The only audience of his first sand-scribbled stories was his pet, a Bluetick Coonhound.

Statue of characters in “Where The Red Fern Grows” at the Public Library in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Entitled ‘“Dreams Can Come True” Wilson Rawls author of Where The Red Fern Grows.’ Sculpture by Marilyn Hoff Hansen

Novels[edit]

Awards for his novels[edit]

Where the Red Fern Grows:

  • Evansville Book Award—Division III, Evansville-Vanderburgh

School Corporation (1979)

  • Michigan Young Readers Award—Division II, Michigan Council of Teachers of English (1980)
  • Children's Book Award for the Older Child, North Dakota (1981)
  • Twelfth Annual Children's Book Award, Massachusetts (1987)
  • Great Stone Face Award, New Hampshire(1988)
  • Newbery Honor Award

Summer of the Monkeys:

  • Sequoyah Children's Book Award, Oklahoma Library Association (1979)
  • William Allen White Children's Book Award, Emporia State University (1979)
  • Golden Archer Award, University of Wisconsin (1980)
  • Maud Hart Lovelace Book Award, Friends of the Minnesota Valley Regional Library (1980)
  • California Young Reader Medal Award (1980)
  • California Reading Association (1981)
  • California Library Association, California Media and Library Educators Association (1981)
  • California Association of Teachers of English (1981)
  • Children's Book Award for the Older Child, North Dakota (1981)

Audio Books[edit]

Where the Red Fern Grows (1989)

References[edit]