Maya Angelou

  • Writer, poet, screenwriter, actor, dancer
  • 1928-2014
  • Missouri, USA
  • Famous book: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969) – Autobiography
  • Famous poem: Still I Rise
  • Maya Angelou made literary history with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings which was the first non-fiction best-seller by an African-American woman.

Chinua Achebe

  • Author, Educator, Publisher
  • 1930–2013
  • Nigeria
  • Famous book: Things Fall Apart (1958) – Fiction
  • Things Fall Apart has sold more than 20 million copies and has been translated into more than 50 languages.

Ben Okri

  • Author
  • 1959-
  • Nigeria & England
  • Famous book: The Famished Road (1991) – Fiction
  • Okri won the Booker Prize in 1991 for The Famished Road.

Mildred D. Taylor

  • Author
  • 1943-
  • Mississippi, USA
  • Famous book: Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry (1976) – Children’s Fiction
  • All of Mildred D. Taylor’s novels are based on personal stories based on her own family and tales she heard at gatherings throughout her life.

Andrea Levy

  • Author
  • 1956-
  • England (& Jamaica)
  • Famous Book: Small Island (2004) – Fiction
  • Andrea Levy’s father was one of the generation to sail from Jamaica to England on the Empire Windrush Ship in 1948.

Toni Morrison

  • Author
  • 1931-
  • Ohio, USA
  • Famous book: Beloved (1987) – Fiction
  • Toni Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993.

Malorie Blackman

  • Author, Teacher
  • 1962-
  • London, England
  • Famous book: Noughts & Crosses (2001) – Fiction (series)

This is what Malorie Blackman had to say about writing about racism in children’s literature:

 I think a lot of racism comes out of ignorance and fear, and we can start to combat it by showing different cultures, races, religions in story contexts. Stories promote empathy, a sense of being able to see through the eyes of others and being able to walk in another person’s shoes. That said, we also need more books which feature children of colour, children with disabilities, working class children, LGBT teens, etc which are just about children and teens having adventures and not necessarily about their disability, colour, culture, religion. Books should be mirrors as well as windows.

I generally make my major characters black because that’s who and what I am and I’m started writing in part to redress the imbalance regarding ethnic diversity in children’s literature that I felt acutely as a child, but the ethnic identity of my characters is never the whole story. I try to make my characters real people who are trying to live their lives and deal with their problems. For example, a black boy who needs a heart transplant is pretty much the same as a white boy who needs a heart transplant (Pig Heart Boy).

Nicola Yoon

  • Author, Programmer
  • New York, USA & Jamaica
  • Famous book: Everything, Everything (2015) – Fiction
  • Nicola Yoon had a full-time job while writing Everything, Everything. It took her three years of writing from 4am-6am before work.

 

All the above-mentioned books – and more! – are available in the school library.

 

More authors to follow…

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