Unexpected Children’s Book Authors

3 min read

| By Jennifer Stock |

A lot of authors write for all ages, but many aren’t known for their works for young readers. You may be surprised by some of the famous authors of works for adults—and even actors and political figures—who have written children’s books. Did you know that Langston Hughes, a leading figure of the Harlem Renaissance, wrote three books for kids? He even wrote the first children’s book about jazz, aptly titled The First Book of Jazz (1955). I studied several of Noble laureate William Faulkner’s works in college, but only recently learned that he wrote a children’s book in 1927 called The Wishing Tree.

Gale Literature: Something About the Author features several modern authors and celebrities that many people wouldn’t expect to have written books for children and young adults. Here are some examples from two recent volumes:

Volume 350

Kamala Harris: A U.S. senator representing California, Harris was among the early group of Democratic candidates vying to be their party’s nominee in the 2020 presidential election. She’s also the author of the picture book Superheroes Are Everywhere, which showcases the family members, teachers, friends, and neighbors she looked to as role models while growing up.

Toni Morrison: Best known for such works as The Bluest Eye and Beloved, Morrison won numerous awards throughout her career, including the Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Prize. With her son, Slade Morrison, she wrote several children’s books, including The Big Box, The Book of Mean People, and Please, Louise.

Joyce Carol Oates: A four-time Pulitzer Prize finalist and recipient of the O. Henry Award, Oates is the prodigious author of short stories, novels, plays, poetry, and nonfiction. Her novels for young adults include Big Mouth & Ugly Girl, Freaky Green Eyes, Sexy, and Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You. She has also written several books for younger readers.

Volume 353

Hoda Kotb: Host of NBC’s Today show, Kotb is the author of four nonfiction books. She was inspired to write children’s books after the adoption of a baby girl in 2017. She’s the author of I’ve Loved You Since Forever, featuring a mother bear and baby bear, and You Are My Happy, which was inspired by her daughter’s bedtime routine.

Trevor Noah: A comedian and host of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah on the Comedy Central network, Noah recounts his early years growing up in South Africa in his 2016 autobiography. After learning that parents enjoyed sharing the book with their children and wished there were a version kids could read themselves, he released a young-adult version titled It’s Trevor Noah: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood.

Meet the Author

Jennifer Stock is a senior content developer at Gale, a Cengage Company, where she has worked on a variety of projects, including eBooks and electronic databases, for K‒12 and academic audiences.

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