Last month was Women’s History Month! Unfortunately, there were a lot of changes and stressors as a Kindergarten Teacher, so I wasn’t able to post on Colorful Pages as much as I wanted. However, I still wanted to do one of the several Women’s History Month articles I was going to write. 

Therefore, I am SO excited to write this list of 15 Wonderful Women of Color Authors! Even though it is not Women’s History Month anymore, we need to uplift women of color authors as much as possible. This list of Wonderful Women of Color Authors is organized by their book type:

  • Picture Books
  • Early Chapter/Middle Grade Books
  • Young Adult Books 

There are so many ways to use this list! You could pick an author to do an author study in your classroom. Choose a couple authors to support by buying books for your home and adding to your bookshelves. Feature the authors in your library displays. Also, I want to point out that this list is definitely not exhaustive and there are SO many more Wonderful Women of Color authors than the 15 I list here. Check out our social media and website resources to find more suggestions! Let’s get started…

Picture Book Authors

Vashti Harrison

“Part author – Illustrator – filmmaker Vashti Harrison is an artist originally from Onley, Virginia. She has a background in cinematography and screenwriting and a love for storytelling. She earned her BA from the University of Virginia with a double major in Media Studies and Studio Art with concentrations in Film and Cinematography. She received her MFA in Film and Video from CalArts where she rekindled a love for drawing and painting. Now, utilizing both skill sets, she is passionate about crafting beautiful stories in both the film and kidlit worlds.” (From Her Bio)

Vasthi Harrison is an EXTREMELY talented illustrator and author! She illustrates her own books and other authors’ books. Her illustrations are light and beautiful. 

Some Books She Wrote: Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History; Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World; Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History

Oge Mora

“Oge Mora is a collage artist and storyteller. Her picture book, Thank You, Omu!, was a Caldecott Honor, Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award winner, and Ezra Jack Keats Book Award recipient.  Her second book, Saturday won the 2020 Boston Globe—Horn Book Picture Book Award. Oge’s artwork has been applauded by The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Boston Globe. She also recently made the Forbes 30 Under 30 2021 list in Arts & Style.” (From Her Bio)

Oge Mora is another great author and illustrator combo! She has recently started writing her own books that really emphasize collectivism and the importance of family. 

Some Books She Wrote: Thank You, Omu!; Saturday

Monique Gray Smith

“Monique Gray Smith is a proud mom of teenage twins, an award-winning, best-selling author and sought after consultant. Monique’s first published novel, Tilly: A Story of Hope and Resilience won the 2014 Burt Award for First Nation, Métis and Inuit Literature. Monique is Cree, Lakota and Scottish and has been sober and involved in her healing journey for over 29 years. She is well known for her storytelling, spirit of generosity and focus on resilience.” (From Her Bio)

Monique Gray Smith is one of my absolute favorite authors! Her books feature indigenous communities and characters in an authentic and diverse way. She writes a lot of books about social emotional topics. 

Some Books She Wrote: My Heart Fills with Happiness; You Hold Me Up; When We Are Kind

Kat Zhang

“Kat Zhang spent most of her childhood tramping through a world woven from her favorite stories and games. She has also published two Middle Grade novels with Simon & Schuster. The first, The Emperor’s Riddle, is about hidden treasure, lost aunts, and China. The second, The Memory of Forgotten Things, is about grief, solar eclipses, and misfit children. She also has two picture books, Amy Wu & the Perfect Bao and Amy Wu & the Patchwork Dragon, and is working on a series of books with Baobab Studios and Penguin Random House about the Magic Paintbrush legends.” (From Her Bio)

If you have followed Colorful Pages for awhile, you probably already know that I am a fan of Kat Zhang. Her picture books are hilarious and are always a favorite in my classroom. She also writes middle grade and young adult books. 

Some Books She Wrote: Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao; Amy Wu and the Patchwork Dragon

Jamila Thompkins-Bigelow

“Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, M.S.Ed, is a Philadelphia-based educator and children’s book author. A curriculum writer and former English teacher, she has educated children and teens in traditional and alternative learning settings for 15 years. As an inaugural AMAL fellow with the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC), she developed foundational curricular frameworks for youth and adult anti-racist programming. Her picture books and short stories, which feature young Black and Muslim protagonists, have been recognized as the best in children’s literature by Time Magazine, Read Across America, and NPR.”(From Her Bio)

Jamila Thompkins-Bigelow is a great author. Her books always bring such joy to any reader. She also writes picture books with much-needed representation!

Some Books She Wrote: Mommy’s Khimar; Once Upon An Eid; Your Name Is A Song

Early Chapter/Middle Grade Book Authors

Sherri Winston

“I am the author of The Sweetest Sound, President of the Whole Fifth Grade and President of the Whole Sixth Grade, as well as other books. This blog is for librarians, parents, teachers, enthusiastic readers and anyone wanting to promote reading, writing and a love of words. I’m an enthusiastic school presenter and library performer. Making up stories and drawing people in—that’s what I do, baby! You’re welcome to hang out on my page, get to know me, read my reviews of books I’ve read recently, and learn what’s coming next.” (From Her Bio)

Sherri Winston authors really empowering middle grade books for girls! All readers benefit from reading her books though. These are exactly the type of books I loved reading in late elementary and middle school. 

Some Books She Wrote: President of the Whole Sixth Grade; President of the Whole Sixth Grade: Girl Code; President of the Whole Fifth Grade; The Sweetest Sound

Kelly Starling Lyons

“I grew up in a family that encouraged creativity. My mother, who sings, acts and writes plays, took my brother and me to productions at a children’s theater and made up bedtime tales. She inspired us to express ourselves through the arts. I’ve been blessed to create many more titles including One More Dino on the Floor, easy reader A Girl Named Misty about trailblazing ballerina Misty Copeland, the Jada Jones chapter book series and picture books Going Down Home with Daddy, Sing a Song: How Lift Every Voice & Sing Inspired Generations, Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon and Tiara’s Hat Parade. In 2019, I celebrated my 15th anniversary as an author.” (From Her Bio)

Kelly Starling Lyons has an entertaining early chapter book series called Jada Jones. She also writes some amazing picture books that increase representation. 

Some Books She Wrote: Jada Jones: Dancing Queen; Jada Jones: Sleepover Scientist; Jada Jones: Class Act; A Girl Named Misty

Grace Lin

“Before Grace Lin was an award-winning and NY Times bestselling author/illustrator of picture books, early readers and middle grade novels, she was the only Asian girl (except for her sisters) going to her elementary school in Upstate NY. That experience, good and bad, has influenced her books—including her Newbery Honor WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON, her Geisel Honor LING & TING, her National Book Finalist WHEN THE SEA TURNED TO SILVER and her Caldecott Honor A BIG MOONCAKE FOR LITTLE STAR. But, it also causes Grace to persevere for diversity as an occasional New England Public Radio commentator and when she gave her TEDx talk “The Windows and Mirrors of Your Child’s Bookshelf,” as well as her PBSNewHour video essay “What to do when you realize classic books from your childhood are racist?.” (From Her Bio)

Grace Lin is an award-winning author and it shows in her work! Her early chapter books are engaging. I almost included her in the Picture Book Authors list because I also love her board books and picture books. She is a strong advocate for cultural representation in books too!

Some Books She Wrote: Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same; Where the Mountain Meets the Moon; The Year of the Dog; Dumpling Days

Meg Medina

“Meg Medina is a Newbery award-winning and New York Times best-selling author who writes picture books, as well as middle grade and young adult fiction. Her works have been called “heartbreaking,” “lyrical” and “must haves for every collection.” She lives with her family in Richmond, Va.” (From Her Bio)

Meg Medina has written both amazing early chapter books and picture books. I love how she develops really strong characters that have increased the Latinx representation in libraries around the world! 

Some Books She Wrote: Merci Suárez Changes Gears; Merci Suárez Can’t Dance; Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away

Rajani LaRocca

“Rajani LaRocca was born in India, raised in Kentucky, and now lives in the Boston area, where she practices medicine and writes award-winning novels and picture books and cohosts the STEM Women in KidLit Podcast. She’s always been an omnivorous reader, and now she is an omnivorous writer of fiction and nonfiction, novels and picture books, prose and poetry. She finds inspiration in her family, her childhood, the natural world, math, science, and just about everywhere she looks.” (From Her Bio)

I came across Rajani LaRocca via social media recently! Her book covers instantly drew me in and her writing definitely kept me there. 

Some Books She Wrote: Midsummer’s Mayhem; Red, White, and Whole; Much Ado About Baseball

Young Adult Book Authors

Nic Stone

“Nic Stone was born and raised in a suburb of Atlanta, GA, and the only thing she loves more than an adventure is a good story about one. After graduating from Spelman College, she worked extensively in teen mentoring and lived in Israel for a few years before returning to the US to write full-time. Growing up with a wide range of cultures, religions, and backgrounds, Stone strives to bring these diverse voices and stories to her work. You can find her goofing off and/or fangirling over her adorable little family on most social media platforms.”(From Her Bio)

Nic Stone has written much-needed books that have helped our world process racial injustices. Her words are as powerful as her topics. She also has written a middle grade novel and several essays that are on her website. 

Some Books She Wrote: Dear Justyce; Dear Martin; Jackpot: All Bet$ Are Off

Elizabeth Acevedo

“Elizabeth Acevedo is the New York Times-bestselling author of The Poet X, which won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, the Michael L. Printz Award, the Pura Belpré Award, the Carnegie medal, the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, and the Walter Award. She is also the author of With the Fire on High—which was named a best book of the year by the New York Public Library, NPR, Publishers Weekly, and School Library Journal—and Clap When You Land, which was a Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor book and a Kirkus finalist.” (From Her Bio)

Elizabeth Acevedo’s voice in her books is FIRE! She has written several young adult books and hopefully will be out with more soon. Elizabeth is also a poet and you can watch some of her talks on her website: http://www.acevedowrites.com/poetics

Some Books She Wrote: The Poet X; Clap When You Land; With the Fire on High

Leah Johnson

“Leah Johnson is an eternal midwesterner and author of award-winning books for children and young adults. Her bestselling debut YA novel, You Should See Me in a Crown, was a Stonewall Honor Book, the inaugural Reese’s Book Club YA pick, and named a best book of the year by Amazon, Kirkus, Marie Claire, Publishers Weekly, and New York Public Library. Leah’s essays and cultural criticism can be found in Teen Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Cosmopolitan among others. Her sophomore novel, Rise to the Sun is forthcoming from Scholastic in 2021.” (From Her Bio)

Leah Johnson is just an all-around fun author! Her writing completely reflects that. I also love how she is increasing the representation of our LGBTQ books that star characters of color (thank you, Leah!!).

Some Books She Wrote: You Should See Me in a Crown; Rise to the Sun

Misa Sugiura

“Misa Sugiura is the author of the award-winning It’s Not Like It’s A Secret and the highly acclaimed This Time Will Be Different. Her piece, “Where I’m From” appears in Come On In, a young adult anthology stories about immigration. Misa lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, with her husband, two sons, and two cats.” (From Her Bio)

If you have followed Colorful Pages for awhile, you know I love Misa Sugiura’s work! I am so impressed by the AAPI representation and complexity in her novels. 

Some Books She Wrote: It’s Not Like It’s A Secret; This Time Will Be Different

Aisha Saeed

“Aisha Saeed is a New York Times bestselling author. She wrote WRITTEN IN THE STARS(Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Books, 2015) which was listed as a best book of 2015 by Bank Street Books and a 2016 YALSA Quick Pick For Reluctant Readers. She is also the author of the middle grade novel AMAL UNBOUND (Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Books, 2018) a Summer 2018 Indie Next Pick, An Amazon Best Book of the Month, has received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus and is a Global Read Aloud for 2018. She also has a forthcoming picture book BILAL COOKS DAAL (Simon & Schuster/Salaam Reads, 2019). Aisha is also a founding member of the nonprofit We Need Diverse Books™. She has been featured on MTV, the Huffington Post, NBC, and the BBC, and her writings have appeared in publications including the journal ALAN and the Orlando Sentinel.” (From Her Bio)

Not only has Aisha Saeed done a lot of work in diverse book advocacy, she has also written several of her own. I almost included her in the Picture Book list because I love Bilal Cooks Daal, but I thought it would be more powerful for her to be in the Young Adult Book list. She has only written a couple young adult books but will hopefully be writing more in the future.

Some Books She Wrote: Written in the Stars; Once Upon an Eid; Amal Unbound

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