Beezus, Ramona, and Dissertations

April 12th is children’s book author, Beverly Cleary’s, birthday. Many of Cleary’s books were written over 60 years ago and are still popular today. Even though you don’t need your dissertation to be popular 60 years from now, or ever for that matter, why Cleary books are popular is very instructive for dissertation students everywhere…

Beverly Cleary is a former children’s librarian who became famous for her books about middle-class children. You may have read some of them. Beezus and Ramona and Henry Huggins are a couple of her more famous books that deal with the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of elementary age children.

I’m not going to suggest you write Ramona Writes a Dissertation(although I’d probably read it, if you did). Rather, I’d like to mention something you can learn something from this talented writer that can be applied to your dissertation.

So, why did Cleary’s books become so popular and why do they remain popular today? According to Pat Pflieger, professor of children’s literature at West Chester University, “Cleary’s books have lasted because she understands her audience. She knows they’re sometimes confused or frightened by the world around them, and that they feel deeply about things that adults can dismiss.” (Emphasis is mine.)

Do you understand your audience?

Who is your audience? Be honest with yourself. It should be your committee. But, is it really…you?

Don’t fall into this trap!

If you write your dissertation for yourself, you’ll become too attached. You won’t want to make the revisions your committee asks of you. So, you’ll get held up in committee…all in service of a dissertation that doesn’t do you any good unless it’s approved…by your committee.

Write your dissertation for your committee. Keep reminding yourself who your audience really is. Get it approved.

Don’t be like a children’s book author who writes a story for adults that no children want to read.  Be like Beverly Cleary!

Are you struggling to understand what your audience wants? If so, click here to schedule a quick, 15-minute chat with me to see if you’re a good fit for our Fast Track Your Dissertation Coaching Program. If you are, then I’ll invite you to join the fastest group of dissertation students out there and help you to reach graduation a good year or two faster than you would on your own.

If you need extra support and guidance to make it to graduation, I may be able to help. If you'd like to find out whether you qualify for the support we offer throughout the dissertation process, then...

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Dr. Russell W. Strickland

RUSSELL STRICKLAND, Ph.D., has been referred to as a “rocket scientist turned management consultant.” In truth, he applies an eclectic body of work from astronomy and nuclear physics to dynamic inventory management to market research to each of his student engagements.

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