Paul Fleischman: Biography, Poems & Books

Instructor: Melissa Iturralde

Melissa is an elementary/middle school teacher and has a master's degree in educational leadership.

In this lesson, you will learn about author and playwright, Paul Fleischman. We will take a look at notable poetry collections and books he has published over the years.

The Life of a Young Adult Author

Paul Fleischman
Paul Fleischman

It's no surprise that the son of Sid Fleischman, a Newberry Award winner, would grow up to be just as notable. Paul Fleischman was raised in a home that lived and breathed literature. As a young boy, Fleischman set type for his family's printing press providing a (literal) hands-on experience with words throughout his childhood. Naturally, he developed a love of writing. A combination of Fleischman's childhood experiences, interests and lifestyle stylized his writing.

Remember all the times you asked yourself in school 'Why do I need to do this?' or 'How will this help me in the future?' Well, in fifth grade, Fleischman read The Bad Seed as a readers' theater, an expressive oral reading of original literature. The thrill of entertaining his classmates through words ignited an interest in writing for young adult audiences.

After high school, Fleischman spent some time at Berkeley College. He took a break from undergraduate work and built the foundation for his historical fiction work in New Hampshire. He lived a simplistic life with no electricity, no phone, and old-fashioned wood heating in an 18th century home. Fleischman gained an interest in historical fiction from this experience, and he went on to finish his studies at The University of New Mexico.

Upon finishing college, Fleischman continued to fine-tune his language skills and develop a deeper love of literature as a bookstore employee, library assistant and proofreader. He also founded two witty English groups called the Colon Watch and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to English to help budding writers just like himself.

As of 2015, Paul Fleischman lives with his wife in Santa Cruz, California. He has two sons and a stepdaughter, all of which are grown and on their own.

Poetry With Many Voices

Fleischman not only has a love for literature; he is also fond of music. At one point in his life, he thought about writing his own music. Instead, he chose to write musical poetry and created rhythms through words .

In 1989, he won the Newberry Medal for Joyful Noise. This book is compiled of poetry told in two voices, all derived from the perspectives of various insects. Told from a birds-eye view and in two voices, I am Phoenix was published next. Lastly, Fleischman wrote poems with four voices in Big Talk. This book is written in the format of sheet music so it is easy to find the musicality of the coming-of-age poems written for a middle school audience.

Notable Young Adult Books

Paul Fleischman is everything but an ordinary author. In fact, he is accomplished and recognized through a variety of works that are carefully written so young adults don't miss important themes. Many of his novels are told through various perspectives of characters.

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