Helen Ketteman is the author of twenty-five (and counting) picture books. Her books range in age from preschool through fourth or 5th graders who may be studying tall tales in school. Helen Ketteman earned her Associate of Arts degree from Young Harris College in Young Harris, GA, and her B.A. degree in English from Georgia State University in Atlanta.
She has taught at the high school and elementary levels, and has also taught continuing education classes in writing picture books at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. She’s spoken at adult writing conferences on writing picture books, and also appeared at young author conferences and on radio and television talk shows. She’s a frequent speaker at elementary schools. Helen Ketteman earned her Associate of Arts degree from Young Harris College in Young Harris, GA, and her B.A. degree in English from Georgia State University in Atlanta.
Now that all that’s out of the way, let me really introduce myself. I’m Helen Ketteman, and I grew up in Harlem, Georgia. I lived in Georgia all my life until I married. When I was a child, we didn’t have much for girls to do in our small town – there were no organized sports for girls, and no one watched television in those days. (Yes, it WAS invented!) But there wasn’t much on TV for kids. And I’m glad there wasn’t. Because that gave me more time to read. I read all the time when I was growing up. Books were a way I could visit places I thought I’d never go and meet people I’d never get the chance to meet. They also gave me the adventures I wanted so badly.
Reading stretched my imagination, and I started making up stories for my two younger sisters, and making up plays and inviting the neighbors. I know that the reason I’m a writer today is because I read so much as a child.
After I married, I moved to Chicago, Ill., where my two boys were born. We lived there for 10 years, then moved to Seattle, Washington. I started writing in Seattle. When I first started writing, I thought my stories were wonderful, and would sell right away. They didn’t. I got rejections for 3 1/2 years. I had a LOT to learn. But I finally did learn because I kept trying. Writing is not always easy, and just because you’ve sold one book does not mean you’ll sell the next one you write. I still get lots of rejections.
My husband and I lived in Dallas, Texas, for nine years. During my time there, I published many books, including my Texas Cinderella book, Bubba the Cowboy Prince.
I spent lots of time visiting elementary schools all over Texas, talking to children and teachers about reading and writing and creating books, and getting to know Texas librarians.
Today, my husband and I live on Sanibel Island in Southwest Florida. I continue to write and travel all over the country doing author visits and various speaking engagements at teachers and library conventions. Who knows where this new adventure will take me? Only time will tell, but I’ll keep you posted!
I choose to write books because reading was so important to me as a child (and it still is!). Life for children growing up today is so different from when I grew up. Children are exposed to so much more through television, movies, and the internet. They often have so much going on in their lives they barely have time to sit and read. But I think reading is still important, and something everyone should do – a LOT! And so I write my stories. It’s my hope that when a child finds and reads one of my books – even a reluctant reader – he’ll like it, he’ll have fun with it, and make time to read another book. I write so that children will read. And once they start, who knows where it’ll take them?