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Lunch with an Author: Barbara Larmon Failing PDF Print E-mail
By Kathy Donovan and Linda ReddingYa-hoo-a-roo for Reading

We found a great way to promote reading was to host a Ya-hoo-a-roo for Reading family author night featuring Barbara Larmon Failing.  The evening included cowboy themed reading activities for children and a presentation for parents offering advice on raising readers.  All participants were dressed in their finest western attire.

Picture at right: Ya-Ho-A-Roo for Reading  Barbara Failing (sitting on right) with the library teachers in the Silver Lake Regional School District during Family Author Night featuring a cowboy theme. Back row: Deborah Dallaire, Denise Raynard, Vicki Wright  Front row: Linda Redding, Barbara Failing

Barbara Larmon Failing spent over twenty years as a classroom teacher before becoming a successful children’s author.  Here is what she had to say about her career as an author.

Lasso Lou and Cowboy McCoy is a book that is so much fun to share with children.  Lasso Lou and McCoy get a lot of giggles. What inspired you to write Lasso Lou and Cowboy McCoythis story?

I decided to write a book featuring characters that children would really enjoy. Right away, I thought of cowboys. Then I thought of two silly cowboys. Next, the name Cowboy McCoy popped into my head. I had a little trouble with the second cowboy’s name. I thought of Lasso Larry, then Lasso Luke. Finally, I decided on Lasso Lou. Interestingly, some people have told me that they thought Lasso Lou would be a girl. But I never pictured the character that way. He was always a boy!

Your presentation Raising Readers was very well received with parents and teachers.  One veteran teacher felt it was the best parent presentation she ever attended.  You were able to speak from the parent perspective, as well as from the perspective of a teacher.  What is it that you hope to convey to parents in your Raising Readers  presentation?

Raising Readers is about encouraging children to read and be readers. I am worried about the effect of television and electronics on children’s lives. It’s not that I’m against TV or computers, but I feel strongly that they need to be monitored, particularly with young children. This monitoring should begin at a young age. It’s very easy to fall into the before breakfast, after school or Saturday morning cartoon trap. But if you’re careful about turning on the television just for a show or two and not having it blaring all day long, I think it’s a much better environment for children. When television or electronics aren’t an automatic option, children grow up finding other things to do. And one of the best things they can do is read - to you, with you or by themselves!

In addition to parent presentations and author presentations, you also have a program on writing.  Tell us a little bit about that program and other programs you may offer.

Along with Raising Readers, I offer a school assembly called Ya-hoo-a-roo for Reading! It describes a writer’s life and explains the publishing process using slides, props and audience participation.

My presentation for kindergarten through third grade is called "Lasso Lou and Cowboy McCoy". It includes story time and a discussion of the publishing process using props and audience participation.

My presentation for third through sixth grade is called "Ya-hoo-a-roo for Writing!" It focuses on writing/editing and how a manuscript becomes a book using slides, props and audience participation.

Another program I offer is "Story Time with Lasso Lou and Cowboy McCoy", Raising Readers. It includes story time with a cowboy craft and song. I love visiting schools and libraries and sharing my love of reading and writing.

You offer advice to writers on your website.  Joining a writers' group is one of your tips. How important has it been for you to be part of a group?

I think joining a writers’ group is one of the best things any writer can do. Writing is very solitary. When you have a supportive group you can turn to, it really makes all the difference. Other writers will notice details about your project that you may have overlooked completely. Plus, I enjoy getting together with other people who are striving for the same goals I’m working on.

Can you tell us about what you are up to now?

The exciting news is that I just got an agent. She is based in NYC and is fun to work with. Earlier this year, I finished a middle grade novel which is almost ready to be submitted to editors. In May, I attended the New England SCBWI Conference where I was so inspired that I came home and wrote a new picture book. After about 50 edits, it was done! My present project is a middle grade super-hero novel. I’ve never written anything so fantastical before. I love working on it because I’m constantly inventing new powers for my main character. I hope to finish it this fall. Other than that, I’m enjoying summer on Cape Cod – going to the beach, riding bikes, and eating lobster! In August, I’ll travel to Chautauqua, NY for our annual family vacation. This year I’ll present Raising Readers twice at Chautauqua’s School of Education.

For more information on Barbara Larmon Failing, please visit

Barbara at the 2005 MSLA Conference Author Fest:











Linda Redding, Library Teacher, Silver Lake Regional High School
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Kathy Donovan, Reading Consultant, Turning Pages
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Last Updated ( Friday, 13 July 2007 )

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