When her very young daughter didn’t have enough books to read, Else Holmelund Minarik (born September 13, 1920) created a story with short sentences and simple words about a bear and his mother. Ursula Nordstrom, the legendary children’s book editor at Harper & Row, found out about this story and traveled to Commack, Long Island, to type it for the reclusive Ms. Minarik.
This book, Little Bear, became the first of Harper & Rows “I Can Read” books, an entirely new type of book that a beginning reader could read alone. Illustrated by Maurice Sendak, the many books about Little Bear have become some of the most beloved in children’s literature.
Else Minarik was born in Denmark. Her family moved to the United States when she was four. She completed courses at Queens College and became a reporter for the Rome Daily Centennial. During World War II, she responded to the shortage of teachers by working with first graders in Commack. It was there that she saw the need for books that her students could read. No Fighting, No Biting! is another well-known “I Can Read” book written by Minarik. Minarik died July 12, 2012.