For most of us, books written by female authors were an integral part of our childhood. We read books by Ann M. Martin, J. K. Rowling, Zadie Smith, Suzanne Collins, Jane Austen, Enid Blyton, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Jodi Picoult. These writers did not just expand our imaginations through their diverse stories; they also set a high bar for the craft of writing. However, over time, we’ve seen a surge of new writers on the scene. The baton of literary excellence is being passed to a new generation, and we are excited to see the emergence of these fresh hands.
As the world celebrates International Children’s Book Day, we are spotlighting seven female children’s book authors.
Elizabeth Acevedo is a Dominican-American poet and the author of young adult books With the Fire on High, Soul Food, Clap When You Land, Inheritance, and the New York Times Bestseller The Poet X. Elizabeth is also the winner of the National Book Award, 2019 Michael L. Printz Award, Carnegie Medal, the 2018 Pura Belpre Award, and the Boston-Globe Hornbook Award Prize for Best Children’s Fiction. Elizabeth, with her writings, represents Black girls and women with love and reminds them of their power.
Ugo Anidi is a storyteller and children’s book author. Her books include Half Hour Hara and the Case of the Broken Eggs, The Missing Chicken, and I Want a Pig. She is currently an MFA student in the Writing for Children and Young Adults Program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts and a Lecturer of Law at the University of Nigeria. Ugo Anidi is an avid reader and reviewer of children’s books. On her blog, she shares insightful commentary on new and classic works of children’s literature and offers a comprehensive course on the art of writing picture books.
Juana Martinez-Neal is a Peruvian American children’s book author and illustrator. Her first book, Alma and How She Got Her Name, won the 2019 Caldecott Honor. She wrote and illustrated Zonia’s Rainforest, Swashby and the Sea, Babymoon, La Princess and the Pea, Fry Bread, and Tomatoes for Neela. So far, Juana has more than 17 awards and recognitions.
Angie Thomas is an American young adult author of The Hate U Give, a #1 New York Times bestseller and major motion picture, On the Come Up, Concrete Rose, and her new book Nic Blake and the Remarkables: The Manifestor Prophecy. Thomas has won numerous awards for her work, including the William C. Morris Award, the Michael L. Printz Award, and the Coretta Scott King Award. She, through her books, addresses issues of race and social justice.
Lebohang Masango is a South African poet and award-winning author of children’s books; Mpumi’s Magic Beads, Mpumi and Jabu’s Magical Day!, What Does Mpumi Wear? and What Does Mpumi Eat? These books have won numerous awards and are available in all 11 official languages of South Africa. She co-authored O Šomile, Kolobe Ya Ditšhila for Save the Children in 2020 and worked with Book Dash, a South African NGO, to provide every child 100 books before they reach age 5.
Vashti Harrison is an American illustrator, filmmaker and New York Times bestselling author of Little Leaders, Little Dreamers and Little Legends children’s book series. She illustrated Festival of Colors, Cece Loves Science, Sulwe with Lupita Nyong’o, which won the 2020 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work – Children category, and New York Times Bestseller Hair Love by Matthew Cherry, among others. She has a new book, Big, coming out in May and we can’t wait to read it!
Oge Mora is a Nigerian-American children’s book illustrator and author. Her picture book, Thank You, Omu!, was a Caldecott Honor book, Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award winner, Ezra Jack Keats Book Award recipient, and a New York Times Notable Book and Editors’ Choice. She is also the author of Saturday and illustrated The Oldest Student, Everybody in the Red Brick Building, and I’m From. The Washington Post, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Boston Globe have presented her artworks.
We know the pivotal role that books play in shaping the minds of young individuals, particularly during their formative years. As such, we are just glad to celebrate and amplify a few of the many talented women currently making a profound impact in the world of children’s literature today.
Titilayo Oladapo-Ariyo is a writer based in Ibadan, Nigeria with a degree in Communication and Language Arts. Her affinity for telling stories is evident in the work she produces for various outlets. When she is not conducting interviews or crafting articles for Her Network, she is writing on her blog, watching funny Tiktoks, or reading a book.