Vivian Dubrovin spent her life creating and telling stories, and encouraging and helping others to create and tell theirs. While she was successful and respected as an author and publisher, her most influential story may have been the unwritten one that she created daily, the story of her own life.
Through her ninety years, that story had many chapters. It began on March 24, 1931, in Chicago, IL, where she grew up with her four brothers, Ross (Pat), Dave (Rosalie), Peter (Mary), and Bruce (Ellen), as the second child of Ross and Emilie Herr. She loved to read and create stories there, and even wrote a school play.
Her father encouraged her writing, but suggested a practical education, so her life story then shifted to the University of Illinois, where she earned a journalism degree. It was here that she met her husband Kenneth Dubrovin, and they spent the next 67 years together.
The chapter of marriage and motherhood included raising five children: Kenneth R., Darryl (Coleen), Diana (Edwin) Cooley, Laura, and Barbara. It was reading all those many (many!) bedtime stories, and also teaching all those Sunday school classes, that interested Vivian in writing for children. There were several moves, from Illinois to Wisconsin, to Missouri, Kansas, Wyoming, and Colorado. As her kids grew older and she had more time, she began to write short stories, and then children’s books. She wrote fiction, nonfiction, educational, and even technical books, but one of her biggest projects was a series of books to help kids who struggle to read. That experience helped inspire her to help kids understand not just how to read, but to create stories too. Her books are available and in use in schools and libraries and private collections.
She also began helping other children’s authors, as a regional advisor and charter member of a chapter of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She encouraged anyone who wanted to write and help children.
Vivian always loved dolls and crafts of all kinds; knitting, needlework, sewing, paper crafts, kids’ crafts, toys, and more. After her kids were grown, she started a new venture, combining her love of crafts with her desire to help kids, and formed Storycraft Publishing in 1993. Soon she was winning independent publishing awards for her books, and was a welcome visitor in schools and libraries, using crafts to spur kids’ storytelling creativity.
Vivian adapted to the advances in technology from manual typewriters to word processors, to computers, to websites and online technology. To help young storytellers, she took Storycraft online with a website in 1996, and ventured into ebooks starting in 2012. The website continues to provide instant free storytelling help worldwide. She also helped teachers to more effectively teach kids to write with her university continuing education courses.
Adding a next generation opened a new chapter in her life story, as she enjoyed encouraging her grandchildren, Kilian and Casey Cooley.
Outside of her many storytelling and writing activities, Vivian enjoyed spending time with family and friends. She also enjoyed participating in the local chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). Often these experiences would become stories themselves. She could always find a story in any situation.
Vivan’s life story lasted ninety years, and from early days to the end, she helped everyone realize that they have a story worth telling and encouraged every person to find and tell theirs. The generations of storytellers she inspired have grown to now inspire others. That message of encouragement continues, and with the many ways she helped people from all walks of life, it can truly be said that the impact of her life on our world is a never-ending story.
You can learn more about Vivian’s life and writings at storycraft.com. While all gifts are appreciated, she would be especially honored by memorial donations to the Children’s Services Division (ALSC) of the American Library Association (http://ec.ala.org/donate/projects) where they develop, promote, and support children’s literacy and library activity programs.