Everyone's favorite literal-minded housekeeper, Amelia Bedelia, celebrates her 40th Anniversary in a three-book I Can Read box set.
"I hate reading but your books are changing my opinion." This letter, from a young Peggy Parish fan, comes as no surprise to the teachers and librarians who have put her books in the hands of children over the years. Ms. Parish wrote nearly three dozen children's books-many of which include her most famous character, the literal-minded maid named Amelia Bedelia.
Peggy Parish knew what children like to read. After graduating from the University of South Carolina with a degree in English, she taught school in Oklahoma, Kentucky, and, for over 15 years, at the well-known, progressive Dalton School in New York City. It was at Dalton that she began to find ways to release her creative ideas and energy, Though she never took a writing course, "writing stories for children came naturally." Her first book, published in 1961, was followed with Let's Be Indians and in 1963 with her unforgettable Amelia Bedelia.
Always involved with education in some way, Peggy Parish did television pieces on preschool education and children's books, wrote children's-book review columns, and led numerous in-service training workshops for teachers. In discussing her ideas about education, she said, "Children's rights are taken away from them when they enter school. What I try to show teachers is that all the skills needed to read can be taught outside of textbooks. Today's children are not going to read what they are not interested in. And if a positive attitude toward reading is not developed during the first three years of school, it is virtually impossible to develop it later."
After living in New York for many years, Peggy Parish returned to her native South Carolina. She died in November, 1988. But Ameila Bedelia did not die. Peggy Parish's nephew, Herman Parish, has written Good Driving, Amelia Bedelia and Bravo, Amelia Bedelia!, published by Greenwillow Books in 1995 and 1997 respectively.