Laurie Halse Anderson was born on October 23, 1961, in Potsdam, New York, and grew up in Syracuse with her sister, Lisa. Her father, Reverend Frank A. Halse, Jr., is a Methodist minister, and her mother, Joyce Mason (Holcomb) Halse, had a management career. Anderson's parents penned poetry and encouraged her to apply her strong imagination to reading and writing: as a child she used to pretend she was a polar bear as she waded through deep snow in her neighborhood.
Anderson often composed stories on her father's typewriter and was excited when she learned to create haiku in second grade. This experience inspired her to devote herself to understanding words in order to express herself artistically as a writer. She read voraciously through her school's library collection, which she considered magical. Anderson was drawn especially to poetry, history, and geographical and cultural books. Heidi and the dictionary were two of her favorite books.
Her extensive reading piqued an interest in foreign cultures. She traveled as an American Field Service exchange student to Denmark when she was a high-school senior. Anderson's host family resided on a pig farm where she learned Danish and local and national customs. In 1981, Anderson graduated from Syracuse's Onondaga Community College with an associate's degree then moved to Washington, D.C., to study language and linguistics at Georgetown University. She married Gregory H. Anderson on June 19, 1983. One year later, she completed a bachelor's degree at Georgetown. Her husband became the chief executive officer of Anderson Financial Systems, and the couple had two daughters, Stephanie and Meredith. Anderson is a Quaker and describes herself as politically independent.
Anderson moved near to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and devoted herself to her family. When her daughters were older, she began writing books to submit for publication. In 1996, Anderson published two picture books, Ndito Runs (illustrated by Anita van der Merwe), about a Kenyan girl exploring her community, and Turkey Pox (illustrated by Dorothy Donohue), featuring a girl whose family celebrated Thanksgiving differently because she had chicken pox. Ndito Runs was praised by the American Booksellers Association which named it "Pick of the Lists," and that title was also selected for recommended book lists by Kansas State Librarians, the Nevada Department...
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