Author Spotlights

I believe author spotlights are a great way to encourage readers to try new materials. This list includes a variety of authors I’ve spotlighted in the past in order to encourage their readership. I’ve tried to include their hometown, a quote, and video clip with each of them, use as you please!


Angela Johnson from Tuskegee, AL

“All of these stories are everyone’s story. If anyone can pick my book up and say, “Yes, this is just a wonderful story; I’ve felt this; I knew someone who felt this,” then I’ve done what I was supposed to do. What else is there? It’s great. It’s better than ice cream.” – Angela Johnson

Video “An Interview with Ohio Author Angela Johnson” (3:30) on becoming an author, writing, and reading.


Cece Bell from Salem, Viriginia

“And being different? That turned out to the best part of all. I found that with a little creativity, and a lot of dedication, any difference can be turned into something amazing. Our differences are our superpowers.” – Cece Bell

Video “Author Cece Bell Talks about her new book” (3:08) on El Deafo from 2014.


Cynthia Leitich Smith from Kansas City, Missouri


Gary Soto from Fresno, CA

“You can always spot bright people. They are reading a book.” -Gary Soto

Video “Gary Soto” (:52) on education, writing, and initiative from 2011.


Jacqueline Woodson from Columbus, OH

“The way you learn to write is by reading. Read the same books over and over. Study them as you would study a textbook. How does the author get you to feel sad? Angry? Surprised? Turn off your television and write for half an hour. Tell YOUR stories. The world is anxious to hear them!” – Jacqueline Woodson

Video “Writers Speak to Kids: Jacqueline Woodson” (3:36) on reading, writing, characters, and editing from 2012.


Lisa Yee from nearby Los Angeles, CA

Video “Lisa Yee’s Super Secret Office” (:49) from 2012.


Nnedi Okorafor from the Cincinatti, OH, of Nigerian immigrant parents

“Science fiction is the only genre that enables African writers to envision a future from our African perspective.” – Nnedi Okorafor

Video “Nnedi Okorafor on the Africa Channel’s Behind the Words: Part 1” (10:43) on growing up, reading, writing, and personal experiences from 2010.


Pam Munoz Ryan from Bakersfield, CA

“Do not be afraid to start over.” – From page 15 of Esperanza Rising via Abuelita

Video “5 Questions with Pam Munoz Ryan” (3:22) on writing, The Dreamer, and what’s on her mind from 2010.

Video “Pam Munoz Ryan” (8:33) on growing up, books, and being a writer from 2011.


Pat Mora from El Paso, TX

“All books are cultural.” – Pat Mora

Video “Pat Mora Interview” (4:41) on writing, poetry, and culture from 2008.

Video “Pat Mora: 2010 National Book Festival” (27:34) on what she does and why she does it from 2010.


Sharon Draper from Cleveland, OH

“I have been very blessed. Who am I? I’m a creator, a visionary, a poet. I approach the world with the eyes of an artist, the ears of a musician, and the soul of a writer. I see rainbows where others see only rain, and possibilities when others see only problems.
I love to write; words flow easily from my fingertips, and my heart beats rapidly with excitement as an idea becomes a reality on the paper in front of me. I’m a learner and a seeker of knowledge, and I try to take my readers along on my journey. I am truly passionate about what I do.
I learned to dream through reading, learned to create dreams through writing, and learned to develop dreamers through teaching. I shall always be a dreamer. Come dream with me.” – Sharon Draper

Video “Sharon Draper Interview” (3:57) on her life, books, and projects with young people from 2013.


Sherman Alexie from Wellpinit, WA, on the Spokane Indian Reservation

“A book is always going to be there…It’s that moment when a writer perfectly captures or names something you had always known but had no words to describe it. Who knew that one life and one literary career from a rez’ Indian boy could have that much power for people? Gives me hope.” – Sherman Alexie

Video “Sherman Alexie on Book Banning and Censorship” (1:35) on books being banned from 2014.

Video “Meet Sherman Alexie” (2:54) on perseverance, mystery, books, and poverty from 2013.


Sundee Frazier, currently living in Seattle, WA 

“As a person of mixed race, I often feel like that mysterious color that closes the chasm between day and night, sun and moon. It’s an inky, ocean blue that makes your heart ache with the hope that there’s something beyond what we can see, for as incredible as this world is, it is also full of turmoil. I try to hold both realities in my hands as I write, even as I hold both my races in my heart.” – Sundee Frazier

Video “WordsWest Literary Series 9 – Sundee Frazier…” (22:25) on Brendan Buckley, writing, and creating stories from 2015.

Check out the authors that have been part of NBC Learn’s Writers Speak to Kids.