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100 Children’s Authors and Illustrators Everyone Should Know

Children’s Books

100 Children’s Authors and Illustrators Everyone Should Know

Meet 100 wonderful authors and illustrators who create beautiful and timeless books for children, contributing fiction, nonfiction, graphic novels, and poetry to our bookshelves. We hope you discover some new books and learn about the folks who brought them to life.

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It’s not impossible to list every great author and illustrator of children’s books out there, but it would be an extraordinarily long list! This list is meant to help introduce children and caring adults to 100 creators who are acclaimed in the field of children’s literature and connect kids to thoughtful, engaging, and joyful reading experiences. 

This list is organized by age range and then by the author’s last name, though many of these authors and illustrators create books for all ages of readers. Getting to know these authors and illustrators gives kids the opportunity to continue to read favorite writers as they grow.

Authors of beloved classics such as Beatrix Potter, A.A. Milne, Lewis Carroll, Margaret Wise Brown, E.B. White, C.S. Lewis, Roald Dahl, Beverly Cleary, Eric Carle, Richard Scarry, Maurice Sendak, and Judy Blume for example, have not been included here as they already are quite well-known, having published enduring titles that many generations have enjoyed. Nor will you find contemporary best-selling household names such as Jeff Kinney, J.K. Rowling, Dav Pilkey, Rick Riordan, and R. J. Palacio on this list as they produce wildly popular titles that kids will likely encounter through word of mouth or in other media.

Of course, everyone has their favorites! If there are other authors or illustrators you think everyone should know, please share your suggestions via email: [email protected]

Babies through age 4 (board books)

Jabari Asim

Asim’s board books with fresh, free-flowing verse encourage silliness and curiosity, while his picture books and middle grade titles often focus on African American history.

Sandra Boynton

Tuned into toddlers, Boynton has created a menagerie of playful, spontaneous animal characters that fill more than 60 titles.

Donald Crews

This two-time Caldecott award winner presents objects and scenes familiar to young children using artfully designed bold graphic images.

Lois Ehlert

Ehlert was an artist who wasn’t afraid to wire, sew, glue, cut, paint, or photograph to pro-vide highly original children’s books full of stunning shapes and strong colors. Our video interview with Lois Ehlert 

Mem Fox

Australia’s best-known children’s book author of more than 40 board books and picture books, Fox is also passionate advocate for reading aloud to children. Our video interview with Mem Fox 

Vashti Harrison

Author, illustrator, and filmmaker Harrison introduces young children to Black history and women’s history with sweet, serene depictions of world-changers.

Tana Hoban

An accomplished photographer who turned her images reflecting a child’s viewpoint in looking at the world into innovative concept books.

Bill Martin Jr

The author of more than 300 children’s books, Martin was skilled at writing simple, melodic texts helpful to beginning readers. Our video interview with Bill Martin Jr 

Helen Oxenbury

Renowned picture book illustrator Oxenbury captures humor, drama, and more in an appealing and memorable way. Our video interview with Helen Oxenbury 

Rosemary Wells

Author and illustrator of more than 60 books, Wells has a terrific understanding of what matters to young children. Our video interview with Rosemary Wells 

Age 4–8 (picture books)

Mitsumas Anno

Passionate about math and science, this renowned artist, children’s book author-illustrator, and Hans Christian Andersen Medal winner created highly detailed illustrations that take readers on imaginative journeys. 

Andrea Beaty

A natural at rhyme, Beaty fills STEAM-themed picture books and chapter books with curiosity, creativity, innovation, persistence, and problem-solving. Our video interview with Andrea Beaty  (opens in a new window)

Jan Brett

Best-selling author/illustrator Brett does extensive research before beginning her intricately detailed illustrations which often include story subplots woven into creative page borders.

Tami Charles

A former teacher, Charles writes lyrical, affirming texts for her picture books as well as middle grade and young adult titles.

Bryan Collier

Award-winning illustrator Collier uses a vibrant combination of watercolor and collage to bring his characters, mostly real historical figures, to life on the page. Our video interview with Bryan Collier 

Raúl Colón

Renowned for his luminous children’s book illustrations, Colón layers color to create the bold, often dramatic illustrations featured in his books. Video interview with Raúl Colón from Colorín Colorado  (opens in a new window) 

Barbara Cooney

Though Cooney shifted styles of illustrating during her long career, her artistic style is often considered as folk art and her work infused with respect for children’s moral and intellectual sophistication.

Matt de la Peña

Newbery Medal-winning author de la Peña writes poignant, lyrical picture books (often about class) as well as middle grade and young adult novels. Our video interview with Matt de la Peña 

Tomie dePaola

A warm and energetic artist who used a distinctive black line and folk-art style, dePaola’s books are filled with imagination, gentle humor, and stories inspired by his own life. Our video interview with Tomie dePaola 

Leo and Diane Dillon

This award-winning husband-and-wife artist team work on the same piece of art in the many books they authored and/or illustrated honoring African culture.

Margarita Engle

An author free verse young adult novels, author and poet Engle also writes lovely, lyrical picture books that celebrate historical figures and Cuban culture. Video interview with Margarita Engle from Colorín Colorado  (opens in a new window) 

Julie Flett

Artist, author, and illustrator Flett is warm and gentle illustrations centered around the life and cultures of Indigenous peoples.

Gail Gibbons

Gibbons has a gift for researching complex nonfiction subjects and turning them into clear, colorfully illustrated picture books with strong kid-appeal. Our video interview with Gail Gibbons 

Eloise Greenfield

Greenfield richly captured the rhythm and melodies of everyday African American family life and historical figures in her poetry, picture books, and biographies for children.

Kevin Henkes

Author of award-winning middle grade titles, Henkes is also a Caldecott Medal winner and writes and illustrates simple, yet elegant picture books that often feature admirable mouse characters.

Steve Jenkins

Passionate about science, Jenkins answered curious kids’ questions in his nonfiction picture books illustrated in vibrant and exquisite cut- and torn-paper collage.

Steven Kellogg

Kellogg writes and draws in what he calls a “beautiful duet” creating highly detailed color filled drawings to deepen and expand the text of his stories. Our video interview with Steven Kellogg 

Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen 

Both Klassen and Barnett are known for their sense of humor and when they work together, the results are sharp, layered, witty picture books. Our video interview with Mac Barnett 

Leo Lionni

A four-time Caldecott Honor winner, Lionni used collage for his boldly illustrated picture books which look for creative solutions for creative solutions to problems in communities of all kinds.

Minh Lê and Dan Santat

The dynamic duo of Lê and the Caldecott Award-winning Santat delivers comics-inspired storytelling with an emotional punch. Our video interview with Minh Lê (opens in a new window)

Grace Lin

An advocate for diversity in children’s books, award-winning author/illustrator Lin creates board books, early readers, and middle grade novels in addition to picture books with universal themes that are about the Asian-American experience. Our video interview with Grace Lin (opens in a new window)

Arnold Lobel

Acclaimed author and illustrator Lobel illustrated nearly 100 books and in his own titles often featured animal characters and their adventures and misadventures.

Rafael López

Passionate about using art to build community, artist, muralist, and illustrator López is a multiple Pura Belpré Award winner who brings his strong graphic style to books that reflect and honor the lives of all young people. Video interview with Rafael López from Colorín Colorado  (opens in a new window)

Kelly Starling Lyons

Lyons’ mission as an author to “transform moments, memories, and history into stories of discovery” includes a focus on aspects of African American history and culture.

James Marshall

Marshall turned his own tremendous wit and simplistic drawing style into unique, whimsical — and sometime ridiculous — characters.

Juana Martinez-Neal

Author and illustrator Martinez-Neal embraces wonder in the titles she writes and creates richly connected artwork that communicates deep emotions. Video interview with Juana Martinez-Neal from Colorín Colorado  (opens in a new window)

Robert McCloskey

McCloskey turned his keen observational skills into award-winning titles that give readers a sense of home and a sense of belonging.

Meg Medina

Award-winning author Medina writes picture books, middle grade stories, and young adult fiction that examines how cultures intersect, as seen through the eyes of young people. Our video interview with Meg Medina  (opens in a new window)

Yuyi Morales

Multiple Pura Belpré Award winner Morales, who thinks of everything in her life as an art project, uses spare language and sumptuous imagery in her picture books.

Leuyen Pham

Acclaimed illustrator of more than 100 children’s books, Pham worked in animation before turning to drawing and writing children’s books and excels in a variety of artistic styles.

Jerry Pinkney

A revered artist, Pinkney delighted in the act of creation and was committed to reflecting Black themes and culture whenever possible in his more than one hundred titles. Our video interview with Jerry Pinkney (opens in a new window)

James E. Ransome

A frequent collaborator with his wife author Lesa Cline Ransome, artist and illustrator Ran-some is a big fan of history and often portrays realistic characters in historical or contem-porary scenes.

Raúl the Third

The lively work of Pura Belpré Award-winning illustrator, author, and artist Raúl the Third centers around the contemporary Mexican American experience.

Christian Robinson

Award-winning illustrator, author, animator, and designer Robinson began his career in animation and tells stories with pictures that reflect our diverse world. 

Lane Smith

Known for his playful, quirky style, two-time Caldecott Honor recipient Smith both writes and illustrates, experimenting with texture in the artwork he creates. Our video interview with Lane Smith (opens in a new window)

Traci Sorell

Sorell writes award-winning fiction and nonfiction for young people of all ages, focusing primarily on the contemporary lives of Native peoples. Our video interview with Traci Sorell

William Steig

Steig wrote sophisticated stories layered with meaning that offer truths about the world to young readers. 

Andrea Wang

A writer of nonfiction, middle grade, and picture books, Wang’s work explores culture, identity, and belonging.

Mo Willems

The award-winning Willems, who started out in stand-up and television, creates books that are often hilarious but also deal with characters who experiencing emotional extremes. Our video interview with Mo Willems  (opens in a new window)

Vera B. Williams

Williams conveyed the joys of ordinary activities in multicultural families in the picture books she wrote and illustrated in bold colors and a folk-art style.

Jacqueline Woodson

Woodson, who has won lots of awards and has served as both the Young People’s Poet Laureate and the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, explores universal questions and different perspectives in her picture books as well as her middle grade and young adult titles. Our video interview with Jacqueline Woodson  (opens in a new window)

Jane Yolen

The prolific and enchanting Yolen has written some 400 books, including nonfiction, science fiction, fantasy, poetry, and picture books. Our video interview with Jane Yolen  (opens in a new window)

Ed Young

Illustrator of more than 100 books for children, many of which he has also written, Caldecott Medalist Young finds inspiration for his work in the philosophy of Chinese painting. 

Ages 6–9 (picture books and chapter books)

Monica Brown

Brown’s lively narratives are inspired by her Peruvian-American heritage and desire to share Latino/a stories with children. Video interview with Monica Brown on Colorín Colorado  (opens in a new window)

Ashley Bryan

Known for retelling African folktales in a distinct rhythmic prose, Bryan was an eclectic artist who fused painting, poetry, music, collage, and prose to tell stories. Our video interview with Ashley Bryan  (opens in a new window)

Jason Chin

Known for his stunning and detailed art, Caldecott Medalist Chin builds incredible visual stories, often about the natural world, in the children’s books he writes and/or illustrates.

Candace Fleming

Fleming, a versatile author of books and stories for children and young adults, is known for her lively humor in picture books and chapter books, while her nonfiction picture books are praised for her intriguing, lyrical text. Our video interview with Candace Fleming  (opens in a new window)

Lee Bennett Hopkins

Hopkins, a prolific children’s poet, anthologist, and educator, strove to connect readers to verse to help them think differently about the world. 

Patricia McKissack

McKissack, often in collaboration with her husband Fredrick McKissack, showcased Black voices through children’s books and biographies with drama and flair. Our video interview with Patricia and Fredrick McKissack 

Patricia MacLachlan

Children and families are the subjects of most of MacLachlan’s elegant, spare, yet emotional historical and contemporary stories.

Kadir Nelson

A painter who produces iconic images for magazines, album covers, stamps, and whose works are exhibited in major institutions, art galleries, and museums, Nelson brings his rich palette and naturalistic technique to his book illustrations. Our video interview with Kadir Nelson  (opens in a new window)

Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney 

Working in collaboration for 30 years, the Pinkneys have collectively published some 70 books, with Brian Pinkney bringing a range of luminous artistic styles to titles authored by Andrea Davis Pinkney that celebrate the heritage of African Americans.

Jack Prelutsky

One of the most popular children’s poets of all time, Prelutsky writes and compiles humorous collections of wonderfully wacky poems. Our video interview with Jack Prelutsky  (opens in a new window)

Cynthia Rylant

Author Rylant brings her straightforward style to many popular beginning-reader series in addition to her award-winning novels and picture books.

Seymour Simon

Simon, who writes about science in a way that is accurate, interesting, and accessible, is the author of nearly 300 highly acclaimed science books. Our video interview with Seymour Simon  (opens in a new window)

Jon Scieszka

The first-ever National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Scieszka (rhymes with Fresca) writes playful and cheeky stories and spoofs on fairy tales. Our video interview with Jon Scieszka  (opens in a new window)

Melissa Stewart 

Stewart, with degrees in biology and science journalism, explores the natural world and brings her firsthand research to some 200 science books for children.

Duncan Tonatiuh

The award-winning Tonatiuh takes inspiration from ancient Mixtec art, adding his own contemporary adaptations in his unique illustrations for his books, which often focus on issues of social justice.

Carole Boston Weatherford

Author and poet Weatherford “mines the past for family stories, fading traditions, and forgotten struggles” in books that often feature African American protagonists. Our video interview with Carole Boston Weatherford  (opens in a new window)

Ages 9–12 (illustrated books, middle grade and graphic novels)

Kwame Alexander

Alexander, an award-winning poet and author, writes picture books for children and cross-genre books in verse for older readers that deliver an emotional punch. Our video interview with Kwame Alexander  (opens in a new window)

Katherine Applegate

Award-winning author Applegate is skilled at stirring emotions by offering inside views and unique narrator perspectives. Our video interview with Katherine Applegate  (opens in a new window)

Joseph Bruchac

Bruchac makes authentic connections in the poetry, short stories, novels, anthologies, and music he creates that reflect his Abenaki Indian heritage and Native American traditions. Our video interview with Joseph Bruchac  (opens in a new window)

Jerry Craft

Multiple award-winning author and illustrator of graphic novels, Craft is also celebrated for his syndicated newspaper comic strip Mama’s Boyz.

Sneed Collard III

With a background in biology, Collard introduces aspects of the natural world to children in a way that encourages them to see science as an integrated part of their lives. Our video interview with Sneed Collard  (opens in a new window)

Christopher Paul Curtis

The award-winning Curtis delivers fresh, memorable characters who bring history to life in a way that’s relevant for young readers. Our video interview with Christopher Paul Curtis  (opens in a new window)

Kate DiCamillo

DiCamillo beautifully crafts sensitive, often funny books woven with themes of hope and belief. Our video interview with Kate DiCamillo  (opens in a new window)

Virginia Hamilton

Recipient of every major award in youth literature, revered author Hamilton celebrated the African American experience in her sophisticated, engaging picture books, folktales, mysteries, science fiction, realistic novels, and biographies. 

Varian Johnson

Johnson, who writes rich, well-developed characters, wants to “see kids of color being the stars of all different types of stories.” 

Erin Entrada Kelly

Award-winning author Kelly gives voice to quiet characters as she explores coming of age with sensitivity and honesty, dealing with issues such as bullying, building friendships, and feeling like an outsider. Our video interview with Erin Entrada Kelly  (opens in a new window)

Lois Lowry

From subtle, light-hearted stories to books dealing with serious and complex topics, the award-winning Lowry has written such a wide range of books that her body of work cannot easily be categorized. Our video interview with Lois Lowry  (opens in a new window)

David Macaulay

Award-winning artist Macaulay, who trained as an architect, laces his informational titles with humor, brings gracefulness and clarity to how things work, and invites readers to stretch their minds.

Walter Dean Myers

Myers portrayed authentic views of African Americans in gripping novels for young adults and poetic picture book tributes which were often illustrated by his son, Christopher Myers. Our video interview with Walter Dean Myers  (opens in a new window)

Sy Montgomery

Montgomery, a naturalist and lifelong explorer, connects readers to fellow creatures on Earth in her detailed narrative prose. Our video interview with Sy Montgomery  (opens in a new window)

Linda Sue Park

Award-winning author Park creates memorable characters and brings Korean history and culture vividly to life through her richly imagined stories for young readers. Our video interview with Linda Sue Park  (opens in a new window)

Katherine Paterson

With sensitive, realistic expressions of childhood emotions, Paterson tackles challenging subjects such as sibling rivalry, troubled children, and even death in her middle grade novels. Our video interview with Katherine Paterson  (opens in a new window)

Jason Reynolds

Reynolds writes masterful novels and poetry for young adult and middle-grade readers with intention to make Black children and teenagers feel seen in real life as well as in books.

Pam Muñoz Ryan

In both her picture books and novels, Ryan often features daring female protagonists who defy the societal conventions of their time. Our video interview with Pam Muñoz Ryan 

Brian Selznick

Selznick explores all kinds of different ways that words and pictures interact in the books he creates, marrying intricate pencil illustrations with fascinating and accessible narrative. Our video interview with Brian Selznick  (opens in a new window)

Cynthia Leitich Smith

Smith, who is also the author-curator of Heartdrum, a Native-focused imprint at Harper Children’s Books, writes both realistic contemporary stories and fantastical narratives. Our video interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith  (opens in a new window)

Gary Soto

Poet, novelist, and memoirist Soto deals with the realities of growing up in Mexican American communities in his works.

Mildred Taylor

In her saga of the Logan family, award-winning author Taylor explores family ties and racism faced by African Americans in the rural South before the civil rights movement. 

Raina Telgemeier 

Many of Telgemeier’s graphic novels are autobiographical and deeply personal, exploring her own family life and challenges she faced growing up. Our video interview with Raina Telgemeier  (opens in a new window)

Renée Watson

Watson, who writes for all ages of young readers, centers her work around the experiences of Black girls and women, and explores themes of home, identity, and the intersections of race, class, and gender.

Rita Williams-Garcia

Williams-Garcia writes picture books for young readers and novels for young adults and middle grade readers that are often rooted in recent American history and brim with authentic voices of young people. Our video interview with Rita Williams-Garcia  (opens in a new window)

Gene Luen Yang

A former teacher who served as the fifth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Yang writes, and sometimes draws, comic books and graphic novels. Our video interview with Gene Luen Yang  (opens in a new window)

Kelly Yang

Yang’s experiences as an immigrant growing up in California shape the themes of family and community in her rich and engaging stories.

Laurence Yep

Yep writes books that draw from his Chinese American background yet speak to common feelings and experiences. Our video interview with Laurence Yep  (opens in a new window)

You are welcome to print copies or republish materials for non-commercial use as long as credit is given to Reading Rockets and the author(s). For commercial use, please contact [email protected].

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