Retired Bethel professor Phyllis Alsdurf reads her book "Thanksgiving in the Woods" to children in the Child Development Center. | Photo by Josh Towner

Professor to published author

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Former Bethel professor Phyllis Alsdurf releases her latest children’s book.

By Sarah Nelson

A soft but bold voice sailed through the library Thursday morning. “Tis the gift to be simple, ‘tis the gift to be free. ‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,” retired journalism professor Phyllis Alsdurf sang while she read her latest children’s book, “Thanksgiving in the Woods” to the Prime Time audience.

The Bethel English Department, Friends of the BU Library and Faculty Development invited Alsdurf to campus on Nov. 9 to celebrate the publishing of her book.

Hosted in the library’s fireside lounge, Alsdurf and two members from Sparkhouse Books gave advice on how to go through the publishing process with ease. Alsdurf then read her story about a family’s Thanksgiving tradition to kids at the Child Development Center later that afternoon.

English Department Chairs Marion Larson and Susan Brooks worked together to bring Alsdurf to campus.

Book publishing, Brooks said, requires time and energy. Children’s publishing, she added, is even more competitive than the adult genre.

“Everybody thinks they can do it,” Brooks said, explaining the high level of competition in children’s publishing. “So when it’s finally out there in the world, it’s definitely a good excuse to celebrate.”

Alsdurf drew inspiration for “Thanksgiving in the Woods,” from her personal life. For the past 20 years, Alsdurf’s brother has hosted Thanksgiving at his farm just outside Albany, NY, regardless of snow or rain.

According to Alsdurf, the head count can reach to almost 200. Many take the train out of New York City to come. She always wanted to write about the event, but the process has taken about five years for completion. The book was officially published Oct. 17.

“I’ve had a long term interest in writing for kids and so now I have a little more ability to focus on that,” she said.

Alsdurf is also the author of “It’s Milking Time,” another children’s book released in 2012 about a child’s quest to find out where dairy comes from.

In 1989, she co-authored a book with her husband titled “Battered Into Submission: The Tragedy of Wife Abuse in the Christian Home.” The text examines violence against women within Christian settings.

To make such a transition from writing about complex issues to publishing children’s books requires a good sense about the principles of writing, according to Brooks.

“Phyllis has made a really interesting career shift. Some of it is because she’s very aware of her audience,” Brooks said. “That, I think, is key no matter what you’re writing. If you want people to read, you need to know who those other people are.”

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