Children’s Books Penned by Well-Known Adult Authors

Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Walter Mosley, Omar Tyree….when thinking of these writers and their works, they are well known for writing about mature subjects. Novels such as, The Color Purple and Beloved, come to mind—and certainly are marketed to adult audiences. Therefore, one would assume that Morrison, Walker, and the others write literature specifically for adults, but that is not the case. Those authors and many others have also written for children and young adults.

Much like their adult books, some of the children’s books have profound themes. The Big Box, Morrison’s children’s book co-authored with her son Slade, is a dark tale about three kids confined to a box. It cautions against substituting material things for love. War is the subject of Alice Walker’s Why War Is Never a Good Idea.

These writers’ literary voices extend to all ages, although it is debatable whether children should be exposed to mature themes. Some of the adult authors listed recognize that children and young adults can not only deal with complex themes, it’s necessary because it helps them understand the world. However, many of the children’s books listed are fun reads that deal with family, friendship, and growing up.

The Big Box – Toni & Slade Morrison

The Big Box – Toni & Slade Morrison
To make three youngsters - Patty, Mickey and Liza Sue - abide by their rules, the grown-ups - parents, teachers and other adults - create a world inside a box, a world with toys, games, treats and gifts. But all Patty, Mickey and Liza Sue really want is the freedom to be themselves.

Why War Is Never a Good Idea – Alice Walker

Why War Is Never a Good Idea – Alice Walker
Though War is Old / It has not / Become wise. Alice Walker personifies the power and wanton devastation of war in this evocative poem.

47 – Walter Mosley

47 – Walter Mosley
Number 47, a fourteen-year-old slave boy growing up under the watchful eye of a brutal master in 1832, meets the mysterious Tall John, who introduces him to a magical science and also teaches him the meaning of freedom.

12 Brown Boys - Omar Tyree

12 Brown Boys - Omar Tyree
A collection of short stories for middle readers that focus on the lives of Black pre-teen boys.

Homemade Love - bell hooks

Homemade Love - bell hooks
Her Mama calls her Girlpie-a sweet treat, homemade with love. And when Girlpie makes a mistake, the lover of her mother and father lets her pick up the pieces and make everything right again.

How to Lose Your Class Pet – Willimena Rules! Book #1 - Valerie Wilson Wesley

How to Lose Your Class Pet – Willimena Rules! Book #1 - Valerie Wilson Wesley
Well, summer's over, and Willie is finally about to enter the third grade. Things are looking pretty rosy until she learns that Mrs. Sweetly-who's anything but sweet-is going to be her teacher for the whole year. Not to be daunted, Willie wonders how she can make a good impression on the "sinister" Mrs. Sweetly.

Behind the Mountains – Edwidge Danticat

Behind the Mountains – Edwidge Danticat
It is election time in Haiti, and bombs are going off in the capital city of Port-au-Prince. During a visit from her home in rural Haiti, Celiane Espérance and her mother are nearly killed. Looking at her country with new eyes, Celiane gains a fresh resolve to be reunited with her father in Brooklyn, New York.

Hotlanta – Denene Millner & Mitzi Miller

Hotlanta – Denene Millner & Mitzi Miller
Designer clothes. Gorgeous boys. Family secrets. Major drama. Welcome to Atlanta and the lives of the Duke twins, Sydney and Lauren. They don't call it Hotlanta for nothing

Whitewash - Ntozake Shange

Whitewash - Ntozake Shange
A young African-American girl is traumatized when a gang attacks her and her brother on their way home from school and spray-paints her face white. Based on a true story.

Bayou Magic - Jewell Parker Rhodes

Bayou Magic - Jewell Parker Rhodes
A coming-of-age tale rich with folk magic, set in the wake of the Gulf oil spill…celebrates hope, friendship, and family, and captures the wonder of life in the Deep South.

Another Way to Dance - Martha Southgate

Another Way to Dance - Martha Southgate
Fourteen-year-old Vicki Harris's dream has come true. She has been accepted into the summer program at New York City's prestigious School of American Ballet…Vicki isn't prepared to be one of only two African-American students in the program. Nor is she expecting the racism she finds within the school. And Michael, from Harlem, takes Vicki completely by surprise.

Jake Makes a World: Jacob Lawrence, A Young Artist in Harlem - Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts

Jake Makes a World: Jacob Lawrence, A Young Artist in Harlem - Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts
From his mother's apartment, where he is surrounded by brightly colored walls with intricate patterns; to the streets full of familiar and not-so-familiar faces, sounds, rhythms, and smells; to the art studio where he goes each day after school to transform his everyday world on an epic scale, Jake takes readers on an enchanting journey through the bustling sights and sounds of his neighborhood.

The Divas: Diamond - Victoria Christopher Murray

The Divas: Diamond - Victoria Christopher Murray
Diamond has always been so sure she's in control. Will she have the courage to ask for help and guidance when she needs it? And will the Divas even manage to stay together long enough for the first round of the talent competition?

Please, Baby, Please – Spike & Tonya Lee Lewis

Please, Baby, Please – Spike & Tonya Lee Lewis
From moments fussy to fond…a behind-the-scenes look at the chills, spills, and unequivocal thrills of bringing up baby!

Double Dutch: A Celebration of Jump Rope, Rhyme, and Sisterhood – Veronica Chambers

Double Dutch: A Celebration of Jump Rope, Rhyme, and Sisterhood – Veronica Chambers
This colorful, vibrant treasury is the ultimate tribute to the unique sport and pastime of double Dutch.

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