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Native author and illustrator Michaela Goade working on an illustration for Berry Song

Michaela Goade

Children's Author and Illustrator

In this Reading Rockets interview, Caldecott Medal-winning author and illustrator Michaela Goade talks about her creative process, the inspiration behind some of her illustrations, and the importance of looking for diversity within Native stories. Michaela is an enrolled member of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska.

Photo by Bethany Goodrich

Brief biography

Adapted from Michaela Goade’s official website (opens in a new window).

Michaela Goade is the 2021 Caldecott Medalist and a New York Times bestselling illustrator of We Are Water Protectors. She wrote and illustrated Berry Song — a joyful celebration of the Tlingit land she knows well and the powerful wisdom of elders — which was awarded a 2023 Caldecott Honor. Other books Michaela has illustrated include I Sang You Down from the Stars, a picture book about an Indigenous mother preparing for her new baby, and Encounter, a reimagining of an historical event that explores how we interact with people from other cultures. She illustrated Shanyaak’utlaax: Salmon Boy, a retelling of a traditional Tlingit story and winner of the 2018 American Indian Youth Literature Award for Best Picture Book.

Over the last few years, Michaela’s work has focused on Indigenous KidLit. She is honored to work with Indigenous authors and tribal organizations in the creation of beautiful and much-needed books. An enrolled member of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, Michaela’s Tlingit name is Sheit.een and she is of the Kiks.ádi Clan (Raven/Frog) from Sheet’ká.

“Following the artist path has enabled me to reconnect with my culture, a true gift that has become both an anchor and a north star. It’s been an incredibly enriching experience and I’ll keep learning and working to honor the culture and tribe.”

Michaela was raised in the rainforest and on the beaches of Southeast Alaska, traditional Lingít Aaní (Tlingit land). Today she lives in Sheet’ká (Sitka), Alaska, a magical island on the edge of a wide, wild sea.

Read Michaela’s 2021 Caldecott Medal acceptance speech (opens in a new window)

Watch her speech here (10:13-24:52) (opens in a new window)

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