Author's childhood inspires her


Children's book author Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard was born in Baltimore and spent many summer weeks of her childhood visiting a slew of relatives as she grew up in Boston and Brookline, Mass.

Her Baltimore kin are the characters in her books, one of which, "Aunt Flossie's Hats and CrabCakesLater," the author read to a group of city schoolchildren at Wednesday's downtown luncheon honoring this year's "Reading by 9" teachers.

Living in Pittsburgh and teaching library science at West Virginia University, Howard, 72, also has written "Chita's Christmas Tree" and "Vergie Goes to School With Boys," both based on African-American characters Howard knew as a child.

"I read so many books with no blacks in illustrations that I thought book people were supposed to be white," Howard said.

Twenty-two teachers and reading specialists from the Baltimore area were honored at the luncheon, at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Baltimore. The annual event was sponsored by The Baltimore Sun-Reading by 9 and the Fund for Educational Excellence.

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