Traci Sorell writes award-winning fiction and nonfiction for young people of all ages, focusing primarily on the contemporary lives of Native peoples. Her debut nonfiction picture book We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga, illustrated by Frané Lessac, won an American Indian Youth Literature Award (AIYLA) Honor, an Orbis Pictus Honor, a Sibert Honor, and a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor. A former federal Indian law attorney and policy advocate, Traci is a 2021-22 Tulsa Artist Fellow and Cherokee Nation citizen who lives on her tribe's reservation in northeastern Oklahoma.
To learn more about her books and accompanying teacher guides, visit Traci Sorell's official website.
Watch our interview with Traci below, view the interview transcript, and read a short biography about her. You can also browse a selected list of Traci's children's books.
About Traci Sorell
NOTE: This excerpted biography is republished from Traci's website. Visit the site to learn more about Traci's childhood and some fun facts about the author!
Traci lives with her family in the Cherokee Nation, out in the country like she did as a child. Back then, she had geese, chickens, horses, dogs and cats. Her mother’s Cherokee family has been in the area since the removal of most Cherokee people from their southeastern homelands in 1838. Traci grew up hearing stories about her ancestors and looking at their photographs with her elisi (eh-lee-see), grandma. Now her son does that with his elisi in addition to fishing in the nearby lake and learning their Cherokee culture.
When Traci was a teenager, her family moved to Southern California, [where she did] more writing, both in class and on the high school yearbook staff. She was the first in her family to graduate from college. Later, her mom, sister and brother got their degrees too.
Before she began writing for children, Traci’s work focused on helping Native Nations and their citizens. She wrote legal codes, testimony for Congressional hearings, federal budget requests, grants and reports. She continues that work by writing stories for young people and encouraging other Native writers and illustrators to share theirs. When Traci was a child, she never read culturally accurate books about the Cherokee or any other Indigenous peoples. The stories and poems she writes now reflect her mission to add to the canon of literature showing that Native Nations and their citizens still exist and thrive today.