I grew up in Columbus, Georgia with my mother and dad and one younger brother. I had enough aunts and uncles and cousins to fill my summers with adventures. I loved school from the first day of kindergarten when my mother let go of my hand in front of the white wooden house that held my classroom.
I was shy growing up. I was a good student, so my teachers always knew my name, but I didn’t have a lot of friends. I was the quiet one. I started writing in a diary when I was eight years old. I recorded things like what I had for supper and what I made on the week’s spelling test. As I grew older, my diary became a place for saying the things I didn’t have the courage to say out loud. I have continued to journal for most of my life, sometimes in a wire bound notebook, sometimes in a pretty cloth-bound book, sometimes on scraps of paper. My journals are a place for sorting through my feelings, for understanding my own story. They hold my deepest sorrows and my greatest joys.
I grew up loving to read. My mother signed me up for a book club. I received one book a month for years. Watching my own little library grow was a special treat. I read everywhere—curled up on the couch, in the back seat of the car, sitting on a tree limb, hiding under the bed covers with a flashlight.
In high school, I was still pretty shy, but I was beginning to change, like a caterpillar going through metamorphosis. I can still remember the day I stood in front on the mirror and looked at myself and thought, “Maybe you are pretty.” I remember how it felt to realize that I had things to say. And that I could say them. And that sometimes people would listen.
I still liked school. I was the kid who liked writing reports and term papers. I would sit in the middle of the floor organizing all my 3x5 inch note cards around me. This was before computers could do all the card shuffling for you. I wrote my first play and my first poems in high school. In college, I was an English major. I wrote lots of term papers. I never minded the hours of research in the library. Libraries are still one of my favorite places to be.
After college, I married my husband, Cliff, and we began our family. I have four children, two boys and two girls. I homeschooled for thirteen years. During those years, I taught literature, grammar, and writing classes to groups of homeschoolers. And I read to my children. Our bedtime ritual was one book or one chapter a night with each child. I started with the youngest, read the story, tucked that one in, and went on to the next one. We read some wonderful stories that way.
Now I read to my eight grandchildren. They live far away from me, in Texas and Wisconsin. I choose a couple of my favorite books, read them into a microphone on my computer, and record them to a CD. Then I send the books and the CD to the grandkids on their birthday.
Now that I write books for children, I still spend many hours in the library. If I am writing fiction, I research the time period my characters lived. I want to know what happened, what songs were popular, what they ate, how the communicated with one another, and what books they read.
Writing nonfiction is very much like writing a report. I still take notes, though not usually on 3x5 cards. I still try to organize them so that I can start at the beginning and write through the middle and come to the end. I look for the stories and interesting details that make nonfiction come to life and make my readers want to know more. Questions like these: Did you know that Jimmy Carter was once nearly washed off the deck of a ship by a giant wave? Did you know that Jackie Robinson was in a gang before a good friend helped him join a sports team instead?
That’s what I love about writing. You learn things about people and places that you might never have known. You also learn things about yourself. And that’s always a good thing.
Doraine Bennett has a Bachelor of Arts in English/Professional Writing from Columbus State University. She has taught classes and workshops for children and adults on literature, grammar, creative writing, poetry and teaching writing.
Doraine served as editor of the Infantry Bugler, a quarterly magazine of the National Infantry Association, for over ten years. As a sales representative for Delaney Educational Enterprises for eight years, she helped media specialists and literacy specialists find the books they needed for their students. This role gave her unusual insight into publishing in the educational market.
Doraine owns and teaches yoga at Yoga Inspired in Columbus, Georgia. She teaches alignment-based yoga classes and workshops, including Yoga for Writers.
Doraine has had articles for children or about writing for children published in such magazines as Junior Shooters, Once Upon a Time, and Southern Breeze News.
Her poem, Our Blended Family," is included in the Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations by Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell. She has had poetry in The Arden, Authorme.com, Innisfree Poetry Journal, and the Birmingham Arts Journal.
Doraine has written over 40 nonfiction books for children.
Doraine and her husband, Cliff, live in Columbus in a little house with a creek in the back yard and lots of flowers.
If you are interested in Doraine speaking at your school, please e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your needs and current prices for workshops.