Rita Golden Gelman

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Rita Golden Gelman (born July 2, 1937, Bridgeport, CT) is an American writer of children's literature[1] and travel literature for adults.


Rita Golden Gelman is the author of more than seventy children's books and two adult books. Her memoir, "Tales of a Female Nomad, Living at Large in the World," was published in 2001 by Crown/Random House and it is still selling widely in paperback. In 1987 Gelman decided to sell all her possessions and become a citizen of the world. She has never returned to a settled life; she calls herself a "modern day nomad." She still has no home and few possessions. In "Tales...," she writes about the first fifteen years of living around the world, mostly in developing countries.

Gelman's most recent book (June, 2010) is an anthology, "Female Nomad and Friends, Breaking Free and Breaking Bread Around the World." Forty-one authors, all but two of them women, tell their stories of "connecting across cultures." Gelman has eight stories in the book. There are also thirty three international recipes. All the author royalties from this anthology are used to send high school graduates from slums in New Delhi to vocational schools. Rotary International is facilitating the scholarships in New Delhi via US Rotary in Leonardtown, MD.

Gelman's children's books include "More Spaghetti, I Say!" about Minnie, a monkey who can't stop eating spaghetti, and "Body Battles," about how our bodies fight off viruses and other threats to our health, like drugs and poisons. The spaghetti book is a staple in most first and second grade classrooms.

Gelman's early years ignited a lifelong passion for connecting to all kinds of people. Her family owned a small pharmacy in Bridgeport, CT. As a teenager, she worked the soda fountain in the store. Her favorite part of the job was interacting with immigrant customers, who came in many sizes, shapes, accents and styles.

Rita Golden Gelman attended Beardsley Elementary School, Harding High School for her freshman year and Bassick High School for her last three years. She graduated from Bassick in 1954 and went to Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, where she gained her B.A. in English and American Literature in 1958. Many years later she studied anthropology at UCLA.

After graduating from college, she moved to New York and lived in Greenwich Village until 1976, and then in Los Angeles until she began her nomadic life. In 1960, she married. Her son, Mitch, was born in 1962 and her daughter, Jan, was born in 1963. After having children, she was a stay at home mom, at first dabbling in commercial writing and later devoting herself to authoring children's books.

Her first book, DUMB JOEY, was published in 1972. The book was about a group of kids in New York City who had nowhere to play.

In 1987, on the verge of divorce, Gelman decided that it was time to live her dream of traveling the world and living among people in other cultures. It's been 24 years and she still has no permanent home; her new passion is to bring the concept of a "Gap Year" to teens in the U.S. Her organization, Let's Get Global, is dedicated to encouraging and assisting recent high school graduates to have international experiences before they begin the next phase of their lives. The ultimate goal of LGG is to create a cultural norm in the United States that will make it a common practice to extend education beyond U.S. borders. Let's Get Global suggests that graduating high school seniors defer college or the job world for a year while they immerse themselves in other cultures and discover the common humanity of mankind. www.ritagoldengelman.com

Gelman has delivered keynote speeches for many different organizations, among them, Global Citizen's Network, San Diego International Hostel Association, US Servas, Inc., CSIET (Council on Standards for International Educational Travel). She has also spoken at many Rotary meetings, colleges, and bookstores around the country.


Published works[edit]

  • Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World, May 2001
  • Female Nomad and Friends, Breaking Free and Breaking Bread Around the World, 2010
  • More Spaghetti, I Say, Mort Gerberg (Illustrator), Oct. 1999
  • Doodler Doodling, Paul O. Zelinsky (Illustrator), Aug. 2004
  • Quiero Mas Fideos!, April 2003
  • Hello Cat, You Need a Hat, October 2001
  • Rice Is Life, Yangsook Choi (Illustrator), May 2000
  • Mole in a Hole, Holly Hannon (Illustrator) May 2000
  • Pizza Pat by Rita Golden Gelman Oct 1999
  • Why Can't I Fly?, October 1999,
  • Body Battles, Elroy Freem (Illustrator), October 1999,
  • Monkey Grows Up, October 1999,
  • Wet Cats Eric Gurney (Illustrator, May 1999)
  • Queen Esther Saves Her People, Frane Lessac (Illustrator), February 1998,
  • Que Son Los Cientificos? : Que Hacen Ellos? Vamos a Descubrirlo,Mark Teague (Illustrator), Susan Kovacs Buxbaum,June 1995,
  • Batallas Del Cuerpo, Elroy Freem (Illustrator) May 1995
  • I Went to the Zoo, Maryann Kovalski (Illustrator )September 1993,
  • Una Monita Crece/a Monkey Grows Up, Gioia Fiammenghi (Illustrator), March 1995,
  • Body Detectives : A Book About the Five Senses, Elroy Freem (Illustrator),September 1994
  • Quiero Mas Fideos, Mort Gerberg (Illustrator), June 1994
  • A Panda Grows Up by Mary Morgan (Illustrator), February 1993,
  • More Spaghetti, I Say, January 1993
  • Batallas Del Cuerpo, Elroy Freem (Illustrator), Amalia Bermejo (Translator)January 1992
  • Vampires and Other Creatures of the Night, Nancy Lamb, C. B. Mordan (Illustrator), January 1992
  • Monkey Grows Up, Gioia Fiammenghi (Illustrator), May 1991
  • Dawn to Dusk in the Galapagos, Vol. 1, Tui De Roy (Illustrator)May 1991
  • What Are Scientists?, Susan Kovacs Buxbaun, January 1991
  • Vampires and Other Creatures of the Night, Nancy Lamb, Dec. 1991
  • Monsters of the Sea, Jean Day Zallinger (Illustrator)June 1990
  • Monkeys and Apes of the World, February 1990,
  • Stop Those Painters!, Mort Gerberg (Illustrator),May 1989
  • Cats and Mice, Eric Gurney (Illustrator) Jan. 1989
  • Hello Cat, You Need a Hat, Eric Gurney, June 1988, 34.
  • Inside Nicaragua, Young Peoples Dreams and Fears, January 1988,
  • A Koala Grows Up, November 1987
  • Splash! All About Baths, Maryann Cocca-Leffler (Illustrator), Susan Kovacs Buxbaum November 1987
  • El Sandwich Mas Grande Del Mundo, September 1987
  • Leave It to Minnie, March 1987
  • Splash! : All about Baths, Maryann Cocca-Leffler (Illustrator, Susan Kovacs Buxbaum January 1987
  • Pets for Sale, November 1986
  • Listen and Look! : A Safety Book/#9205-1, Cathy Beylon October 1986,
  • Care and Share : A Book About Manners/#9205-2 Cathy Beylon, October 1986
  • Benji Takes a Dive at Marineland, July 1986
  • A Koala Grows Up, Gioia Fiammenghi (Illustrator), January 1986
  • Body Noises, Susan Buxbaum, Angie Lloyd (Illustrator) January 1983,
  • Boats That Float Marilyn MacGregor, Susan Kovacs Buxbaum September 1981
  • 12 Books, Secret Door Series, with Nancy Lamb, under pseudonym R.G. Austin
  • 12 Books, Which Way Series, with Nancy Lamb, under pseudonym R.G. Austin
  • The Biggest Sandwich Ever, Mort Gerberg (Illustrator) Jan 1981
  • ESP: Stories of Stange Happening July 1981
  • America's Favorite Sports Stars, Steve Gelman, Sept 1978
  • UFO Encounters, Marcia Seligson Sept 1978
  • Uncle Hugh : A Fishing Story Eros Keith, Warner Friedman June 1978,
  • Hey, Kid!, Carol Nicklaus, January 1977
  • Ouch! : All About Cuts and Other Hurts, April 1977
  • Professor Coconut and the Thief, Emily Arnold McCully, Joan RichterJanuary 1977
  • Dumb Joey, Cheryl Pelavin (Illustrator)January 1972

Awards and Recognition "Inside Nicaragua," ALA Notable in 1988. "Doodler Doodling" ALA Notable Children’s Book in 2005. Tales of a Female Nomad was selected for the 2009 Community Read Program, Three Rivers, MI.


  1. ^ "Rita Golden Gelman". WorldCat.org. Retrieved 26 March 2010. 
  2. ^ "A brief bio". Author's Official website. Retrieved 26 March 2010. 

External links[edit]