Harrison's poetry, fiction, and nonfiction for young readers have been anthologized in more than 185 books, translated into twelve languages, sandblasted into a library sidewalk, painted on a bookmobile, and presented on television, radio, podcast, and video stream. Ten of his 90 books are professional works for teachers. He is poet laureate of Drury University. David Harrison Elementary School is named after him. He has given keynote talks, college commencement addresses, and been featured at hundreds of conferences, workshops, literature festivals, and schools across America.
He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Drury University in 1959, a Master of Science degree from Emory University in 1960, and two Honorary Doctor of Letters degrees. His poetry collection, Pirates, represented Missouri at the 2013 National Book Fair in Washington, D.C.