Biographies and Autobiographies of Famous Children’s Authors

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Biographies and Autobiographies of Famous Children’s Authors

Learn more about the authors of your favorite children's books!

There’s something special about re-reading a book I loved as a child as an adult. I recently re-read one of my favorite books as a child, Anne of Green Gables, and while in the midst of the story I did a little background research on the author, Lucy Maud Montgomery.

I learned that Montgomery was raised by her grandparents on Prince Edward Island, Canada, much like her famous heroine. It is fascinating to learn more about authors who can create rich fantasy worlds featuring vibrant young characters that appeal to people of all ages. Here is a curated list of biographies and autobiographies of some favorite children’s authors:

Anne Frank by Josephine Poole
Josephine Poole collaborates with illustrator Angela Barrett in a picture book biography of Anne Frank, appropriate for ages 8 and up. Poole compassionately writes about how Anne’s happy childhood was interrupted by Nazi Germany. Anne's family moved to Amsterdam and eventually took residence in the annex of an office building, which was where Anne penned her diary. Barrett’s utilizes dark and muted colors in her hauntingly beautiful illustrations to help set the tone for the narrative.

The Art of Eric Carle by Eric Carle
The life and work of Eric Carle is examined in this portrait of the illustrator. The book includes an autobiography, essays on the author, and the text of the speech Carle gave on Children’s Book Day at the Library of Congress in 1990. Illustrations from Carle’s book are interspersed throughout the text as well as a photo essay that depicts how Carle creates his art.

Recommended for ages 10 and older, but a treasure for all Eric Carle fans.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Brown Girl Dreaming is the 2015 Newbery Honor book about Woodson’s childhood growing up as an African American during the Civil Rights Movement. The book is told in verse and Woodson beautifully reminisces about how her lifelong love of stories led her to a career in writing.

This is a biography for children and adults alike, as it truly has universal appeal. Recommended for ages 10 and older.

Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak
Many of us grew up reading Nancy Drew without knowing anything about her creators. Rehak reveals the truth behind the pseudonym Carolyn Keene by writing about Nancy Drew’s two creators: Mildred Wirt Benson and Harriet Stratemeyer Adams. Rehak won the Edgar Award for this biography that uncovers the mystery of how one teenage girl was able to appeal to both our grandmothers and girls today.

Little Author in the Big Woods: A Biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Yona Zeldis McDonough
This biography on Laura Ingalls Wilder by Yona Zeldis McDonough explains the similarities and differences between the Little House series and Wilder’s real life, which was the inspiration for the series. Illustrator Jennifer Thermes charmingly mimics the style of the illustrations from the original Little House books.

This book is recommended for ages 8 to 12, but would be a good read for any lover of Little House and Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Louisa: The Life of Louisa May Alcott by Yona Zeldis McDonough
Author Yona Zeldis McDonough tells the story of Louisa May Alcott, author of Little WomenAlcott grew up in Concord, Mass., with three sisters, and McDonough explains how her childhood was used as inspiration for the now famous March sisters. Bethane Andersen’s vibrant illustrations are drawn in warm colors and have a sense of playfulness.

This picture book biography is appropriate for ages 6 to 10.  

Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Author of Anne of Green Gables by Alexandra Wallner
Alexandra Wallner is the author and illustrator of this biographical picture book about Lucy Maud Montgomery, appropriate for ages 4 and older. The biography chronicles Montgomery’s childhood on Prince Edward Island, Canada and the years of hard work it took until she found success as an author with the publishing of Anne of Green Gables. The illustrations that accompany the story resemble folk art and capture the natural beauty of Prince Edward Island.   

My Year by Roald Dahl
This autobiography was published posthumously and was written in Roald Dahl’s last year of life. Dahl takes us through his 74th year, with musings on nature and memories of his childhood. The story is illustrated by Quentin Blake, the same illustrator of many of Dahl’s beloved classics, and his whimsical sketches accompany Dahl’s simple tale. Appropriate for ages 9 and older.
                                                                                                                   
26 Fairmont Avenue by Tomie DePaola
Fans of the classic children’s book Strega Nona will surely enjoy DePaola’s Newbery Award-winning autobiography about his childhood experiences. The first of five books in the series, 26 Fairmont Avenue chronicles Tomie’s first day of kindergarten in 1938. Illustrations in DePaola’s signature style accompany the chapter book, which is appropriate for ages 7 to 10.

The Young Hans Christian Anderson by Karen Hesse
Karen Hesse, author of the Newbery Award winning- book Out of the Dust brings us this biography of fairy tale author Hans Christian Anderson. Hesse explains that Anderson viewed himself as an ugly duckling growing up, which motivated him to write about characters that live happily ever after despite a rough start at life.

The illustrations by Erik Blegard are vignettes of Andersen’s life and give his story a fairy tale feel. Appropriate for ages 8 and older.