About Pleasant DeSpain
1000s of people,
Too many buses…
Pleasant DeSpain (born in 1943) is an international storyteller, world traveler, author of eighteen multicultural story collections and picture books. DeSpain has performed in more than 3,000 schools, theaters, festivals, libraries, and churches in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Thailand, Southeast Asia, and Central America, and has been a featured performer three times at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee.
DeSpain taught speech, literature, and drama for six years at the University of Massachusetts, the University of Colorado, and the University of Seattle before embarking on a career as a professional oral storyteller and author. DeSpain also creates original stories for major educational publishers such as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. His signature story, “Old Joe and the Carpenter,” was chosen for an IBM-sponsored placement into every elementary school library in the United States.
Early Life and Education
Pleasant DeSpain was born in Denver, Colorado, the second son of Robert Alan and Eleanor Jane DeSpain. Early in his childhood, he learned to read and fell in love with books. He penned his first original story in 1951at age eight, “The Mystery Artist.” Forty-five years later it was published in 1996 and sold more than 200,000 copies.
In 1961–1963 DeSpain attended Adams State College, in Alamosa, Colorado. During his sophomore year, DeSpain and his debate partner won a five-state tournament and were both granted full scholarships to Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. He graduated in 1965 with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Public Speaking. He continued his graduate studies at Southern Illinois University and in 1966 earned a Master’s degree in Rhetoric and Public Address and the Oral Interpretation of Literature.
In 1972 he made the decision to become a professional storyteller. In addition to oral storytelling at local venues, he wrote a weekly column featuring a wide range of stories for The Seattle Times. In 1975 he created Pleasant Journeys, a weekly storytelling television show for children, which aired on the NBC Seattle affiliate (KING TV), and was named “Seattle’s Resident Storyteller” by the city’s mayor. DeSpain wrote, produced, and hosted the show for five years until 1980. During his storytelling career, DeSpain has traveled to 36 countries as he gathered traditional and true stories, performed them along the way, and wrote eighteen books. In 2017 he chose northern Thailand as his home base.
It takes courage to grow up
and become who you really are.