St. Clair Shores, MI
|Occupation||Writer and teacher|
|Genres||Children's Fiction and Non-Fiction|
Mel Boring (born 1939) is an American children's author specializing in non-fiction. A member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Boring has produced works such as Incredible Constructions and the People Who Built Them; Caterpillars, Bugs, and Butterflies; and Guinea Pig Scientists: Bold Self-Experimenters in Science and Medicine (coauthored with Leslie Dendy). Boring also travels the world to speak to students about book writing and publishing while he wears a Cat-in-the-Hat costume.
Boring was born September 12, 1939, in St. Clair Shores, Michigan the son of Harold Truman (an electrician) and Helen Irene (Hatfield) Boring. He married Carol Lynne Trettin (a registered nurse) on June 21, 1975. He has four children: Joshua Scott, actor Jeremy Davies, Zachary Michael, and Katrina Lynne.
Boring earned his B.A. from Sterling College, Sterling, Kansas, in 1961 and attended Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey, where he received his Master of Divinity (M. Div.) in 1965.
Boring, who has had a long and varied career, began as an educator, which sparked his interest in writing books for children. He claims that he had difficulty learning to read in early childhood, although he loved to hear books read to him. Those books, especially Dr. Seuss’s The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, served as inspiration for his career in writing.
Boring has published 12 books and over 25 stories in such magazines as Highlights for Children and Cricket. Boring's first 12 fiction submissions to children's magazines received a total of 143 rejections with only one acceptance. He also spent 18 years as an Institute of Children's Literature instructor, teaching hundreds of his students how to write for children.
Outside of writing
- Elementary school teacher, Meriden, KS, 1961–62
- Assistant director, Chi Alpha Student Center, Berkeley, CA, 1965–67
- Ordained interdenominational minister, 1966
- Director of student conferences and seminars, Inter-Church Team Ministries, Newhall, CA, 1967–69
- Elementary school teacher, Monroe Center, MI, 1969–71
- Junior high school mathematics teacher, Palmdale, CA, 1971–76
- Fireman, Volunteer Fire Department, Green Valley, CA, 1972–76
- Radio announcer, 1976–80
- High school teacher of social studies, Vergennes, VT, 1978–80
- Writer and editor, Hoffman Information Systems, 1972–74
- Editor, Children's Writer's E-News, 2003–06
- Sealth: The Story of an American Indian, Dillon, 1978.
- The Rainmaker, Random House (New York, NY), 1980.
- Clowns: The Fun Makers, Messner, 1980.
- Wovoka: The Story of an American Indian, Dillon, 1980.
- Incredible Constructions and the People Who Built Them, Walker (New York, NY), 1984.
- Birds, Nests, and Eggs, NorthWord (Minnetonka, MN), 1996.
- Caterpillars, Bugs, and Butterflies, NorthWord (Minnetonka, MN), 1996.
- Rabbits, Squirrels, and Chipmunks, illustrated by Linda Garrow, NorthWord (Minnetonka, MN), 1996; 2nd. ed., Gareth Stevens (Milwaukee, WI), 2000.
- Fun with Nature, co-authored with Diane L. Burns and Leslie Dendy, illustrated by Linda Garrow, NorthWord (Minnetonka, MN), 1999.
- Guinea Pig Scientists: Bold Self-Experimenters in Science and Medicine, co-authored with Leslie Dendy, illustrated by C.B. Mordan, Holt (New York, NY), 2005.
- Flamingos, Loons, and Pelicans, illustrated by Andrew Recher, NorthWord (Minnetonka, MN), 2006.
- Highlights for Children
- Young World
- Children's Playmate
Honors and awards
- Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators of Iowa Award
- Booklist Top Ten Science Books for Youth designation (2005)
- Book Links Lasting Connections designation (2005)
- Subaru Science Books and Films Prize finalist (2006)
- American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults designation (2006)
- New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age designation (2006)
"A young friend of my son's once asked me if I had 'made' the book Clowns: The Fun Makers. I started to correct him, saying that I had 'written' it. Then I realized that making a book is more correct. Publishing a book is more than writing. It's the revision, the publisher-seeking, the chaptering, the art-work, the meeting of deadlines, the intensive work with a book's editors. And the unparalleled thrill of holding in your hands the result of a creative idea once inside your head and heart."
"I had always had an unfocused interest in writing. It came into focus as I was reading to my students in a one-room school in Michigan in 1970. I saw such enjoyment in their eyes that it made me want to give that enjoyment myself. So I began writing magazine stories and articles in order to gain the experience that would teach me how to write."
"At first I thought of children's books as a stepping stone to writing 'serious' books for adults. But stepping along the stones, I found my imagination being captured by a world of literature that I had never taken seriously. I've been a willing captive of children's books ever since."
"What I discovered is that children's books are serious literature. They are roads that children travel as they develop into adults. Hopefully, the ideas they feed on along the way in books will be included in their adult selves and not surrendered to the demands of a falsely sophisticated adult world in which imagination is often undernourished."
"There is much in adult media that fails to exercise imagination and thus threatens to 'obsolesce' it. Imaginative children's books can deliver a child's imagination intact into their adult self. For me, this has made writing children's books a pretty serious business. But fortunately, humor is one of the tools I have found most useful. It keeps us from the opposite extreme that also smothers imagination: taking life too seriously."
"I take neither rejections nor acceptances too seriously. The rejection of a manuscript can be the road to its revision and acceptance, and continual acceptance can be the road to unimaginative books. Long live rejection and acceptance, and longer live imaginative children's books!"
- Authors and Illustrators Who Visit Schools Web Site, (April 4, 2007), autobiography of Mel Boring.
- Oregon Coast Children's Book Writer Workshop Web Site, (April 4, 2007), Instructor profiles, Mel Boring.
- "Mel Boring" in Contemporary Authors. (A Profile of the Author's Life and Works) Gale, 2002.