Linda Sue Park’s First Creative Dollar

Sometimes you encounter a book based on a true story that has the unexpected power to lift you out of your own life, grow your heart beyond its borders, and call you to action in a way facts or stories bombarding you on the news never could.

Based on a true story.

While not necessarily a house-hold name, Linda Sue Park’s powerful writing consumes my mind for several months of the year and deeply touches several of our middle schoolers during a cross-curricular water theme we do each spring. As a result, two wells in Africa have been funded by our school and have a plaque with our name.

Because I’ve read the #1 New York Times bestseller A Long Walk To Water several times in class, I will never hear the word Sudan the same way again.

I also hope to never take peace, water, or my basic needs for granted.

Linda Sue Park teaches creative writers how to use the power of narrative to teach people about history in a way that deeply challenges, changes, and orients the soul towards the greater good. 

Like everyone who eventually writes something profound, she had to start somewhere. 

Linda Sue Park’s First Creative Dollar

The Amount: $1 in 1969 (about $7 in purchasing power today)

The Project: A haiku in the children's magazine Trailblazer 

In the green forest

A sparkling, bright blue pond hides.

And animals drink

- Linda at nine years old

The Backstory

After being paid for the first time to have her poem in a magazine, Linda Sue Park did not cash her $1 check. She gave it to her dad for Christmas. He framed it and hung it above his desk. When the company wrote a year later telling her to cash it, she told them how it was hanging above her dad’s desk. They were OK with her never cashing it.

Motivated by this early experience, she continued writing as a young person. Several more of her poems appeared in children and adolescent magazines. She eventually went to college at Standford, obtained a degree in English, and wrote for an oil company as a public relations writer. (She only did this for two years.)

Then she worked at an advertising agency, worked as a journalist specializing in food, and taught English to foreign students. It didn’t even occur to her to write children’s books until 1997!

It’s interesting how the roots of her later success are seen in her early years, but she didn’t fully indulge in writing children’s literature until she was almost 40. 

If you would like to learn more about this author and find out more about her books, feel free to check out this website.

What do you think of Linda Sue Park’s story? Why do you think she wrote about so many other topics first? Have you ever read any of her books?