About Us

The TeachingAuthors are a team of children's book authors with a wide range (and many years) of experience teaching writing to children, teens, and adults. On this site, we share our unique perspective as writing teachers who are also working writers. Below you'll find individual bios for the six current TeachingAuthors, plus our TeachingAuthors alums. If you'd like to read about how we each became TeachingAuthors, click on the following links:
 Individual TeachingAuthor Bios:

Photo credit: Webb Burns

April Halprin Wayland is the author of seven picture books, a young adult novel, and an award-winning CD. Her newest picture book is More Than Enough—A Passover Story (Dial). Her book, New Year at the Pier—A Rosh Hashanah Story (Dial), won the Sydney Taylor Book Award Gold Medal for best Jewish picture book of the year. Her novel in poems, Girl Coming in for a Landing (Knopf) won Pennsylvania State University’s Lee Bennett Hopkins Honor Award for Poetry and the Myra Cohn Livingston Award for Poetry. Her CD (also available as an MP3 download), which includes five stories, 17 poems and a fiddle tune (which she plays), won NAPPA’s Gold Award; her poems appear frequently in Cricket Magazine, on the US Children's Poet Laureate's website, and in numerous anthologies. She is co-founder of Authors and Illustrators for Children and also the Children’s Authors Network and has taught in over 400 schools in the U.S., France, Italy, England, Germany, and Poland. April has been an instructor for UCLA Extension’s Writers’ Program for over fifteen years and is the recipient of the UCLA Extension Outstanding Instructor Award in Creative Writing. To contact April, visit her website, where you'll discover she's ½ author, ½ poet, ½ not good at fractions. You can find all April's blog posts here

Bobbi Miller earned her MFA in Writing for Children from Vermont College, and was awarded honors with distinction for her Master of Arts in Children’s Literature degree from Simmons College in Boston. Her fifth book, a middle grade novel, Girls of Gettysburg (Holiday House) is recommended by Booklist as “a unique, exciting work.” School Library Journal calls the book a “riveting historical fiction.” The book appeared as a Hot Pick on Children’s Book Council for September 2014. Her first middle grade novel, Big River’s Daughter (Holiday House) comes recommended by the International Reading Association and was nominated for the Amelia Bloomer Project (American Library Association, 2013). The book was listed as A Mighty Girl’s Top 2013 Mighty Girl Books for Tweens and Teens. Bobbi has also written three picture books. Miss Sally Ann and the Panther (Holiday House) was selected to the Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People 2013 list, a cooperative project of the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) and the Children's Book Council. Her other two picture books, Davy Crockett Gets Hitched and One Fine Trade, also published by Holiday House, were listed on the Bank Street College of Education Best Books of 2010. When she isn't writing or researching, Bobbi teaches College Reading and Writing, Writing for Children, and Rhetoric and Professional Writing for local universities as well as online college courses. You can find all Bobbi's blog posts here.

Carmela A. Martino began writing her first children’s novel, Rosa, Sola (Candlewick Press), while working on her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. The novel was a Booklist “Top Ten First Novel for Youth” and named to Bank Street College of Education's list of Best Books of the year. Her young-adult historical romance, Playing by Heart (Vinspire Publishing) received the 2018 Catholic Arts and Letters Award for Children's/Young Adult fiction. Carmela's credits also include poems and short stories in magazines and anthologies. Her poems appeared in three new anthologies in 2022: Things We Feel, edited by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong (Pomelo Books), for Pre-K thru Grade 2; What Is a Friend?
also edited by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong (Pomelo Books), for grades 3 and up; and Imperfect II Poems about Perspective: An Anthology for Middle Schoolers edited by Tabatha Yeatts (History House Publishers.) Carmela also works as a freelance writer for adult publications. Her articles and essays have appeared in the Chicago TribuneWriter’s Digest, and multiple editions of the annual Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market (Writer’s Digest Books). She taught adult writing workshops at the College of DuPage for over 20 years, and continues to teach both virtually and in-person. To contact Carmela, visit her website. You can find all Carmela's blog posts here.

Esther Hershenhorn’s newest title is the baby board book TXTNG MAMA TXTNG BABY (Sleeping Bear Press). Her other titles include S is for Story: A Writer's Alphabet and Little Illinois (Sleeping Bear Press); Chicken Soup by Heart (Simon & Schuster), a Sydney Taylor Book Award medalist; and the humorous middle-grade novel, The Confe$$Ion$ and $Ecret$ of Howard J. Fingerhut (Holiday House), a Crown Award nominee and Bank Street College Best Book of the Year. Her poetry has recently appeared in The Poetry Friday Collection and The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science (Pomelo Books). A former elementary teacher and Chicago Public School consultant, Esther teaches Writing for Children at the University of Chicago’s Writer’s Studio and Chicago’s Newberry Library and also coaches children’s book writers. She especially enjoys affirming and celebrating Young Authors at school, district, and community family festivals, and helping entire student bodies create their very own A to Z book about their school or town. Visit Esther's website to learn more about her writing, teaching, coaching, visits, and speaking, or to contact her. You can find all Esther's blog posts here.

Mary Ann Rodman has published seven picture books and two middle-grade novels. Her first picture book, My Best Friend (Viking), won the Ezra Jack Keats and Charlotte Zolotow Awards. A Tree for Emmy (Peachtree) received the Giverny Award for best trade science picture book. Her middle-grade historical novel, Yankee Girl (Farrar Straus Giroux) has been nominated for nine state book awards, and was named a VOYA Top Shelf Fiction as well as an NCSS Best Trade Book. She also has short stories in two anthologies for young adults, both edited by Ann Angel and published by Candlewick Press: Such a Pretty Face: Stories about Beauty and Things I'll Never Say: Stories about our Secret Selves. Her books have been published in Spanish, French, Mandarin, and Korean. To connect with Mary Ann, visit her on Facebook. You can find all Mary Ann's blog posts here

Zeena M. Pliska spends her days immersed in the joy of 5-year-olds.  She is a kindergarten teacher by day and a children’s book author by night in Los Angeles, California.  A progressive public-school educator, she believes that the most important aspect of teaching is listening to children. A social justice activist and organizer for over 30 years, she brings race, class, and gender analysis to everything she does. She is half Egyptian and half Filipino. A lifetime storyteller, she has facilitated stories as a theater director, visual artist, photographer and journalist.   Her debut picture book, Hello, Little One: A Monarch Butterfly Story (Page Street Kids) came out May 12, 2020.  Her second picture book Egyptian Lullaby (Roaring Brook Press), was published April 18, 2023. To learn more about Zeena, or to contact her, visit her website.  You can find all Zeena's post's here.

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You will also see posts on our blog from these TeachingAuthor alums who are not currently blogging with us:

Carla Killough McClafferty is the author of numerous nonfiction books, including Fourth Down And Inches: Concussions And Football's Make-Or-Break Moment (Carolrhoda), Tech Titans (Scholastic), The Many Faces Of George Washington: Remaking A Presidential Icon (Carolrhoda), In Defiance Of Hitler: The Secret Mission Of Varian Fry (FSG), Something Out Of Nothing: Marie Curie And Radium (FSG) The Head Bone's Connected To The Neck Bone: The Weird, Wacky And Wonderful X-Ray (FSG), and Forgiving God (Discovery House).  Her books have been recognized for excellence in a variety of ways, such as starred reviews in PW, SLJ, BCCB, Booklist and Jewish Book World; Orbis Pictus Honor Book; IRA Children's Book Winner, NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book; NCSS / CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book; Junior Library Guild; YALSA Nominee List; ALA Best Books List; SLJ Best Books; Bank Street Best Books; Booklist Top Ten Sports Books of the Year; Amelia Bloomer List; Booklist Top Ten Sci-Tech books; Society of School Librarians Honor Book; BCCB Blue Ribbon; and CCBC Choice.  Carla has taught writing at writer’s conferences, professional development workshops for teachers, and to students of all ages.  She presents programs by video conference for teachers and students across the country and has taught a webinar on Common Core State Standards from an author’s perspective. You can contact Carla through her website.You can find all Carla's blog posts here, and read about how she became a TeachingAuthor here.

Gwendolyn Hooks is the author of more than twenty books for young readers including fiction and nonfiction. Her picture book biography, Tiny Stitches– The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas (Lee & Low) is the recipient of the NAACP Image Award and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Crystal Kite Award. It is also a Louisiana Young Readers selection among other honors. Her early reader, Block Party (Lee & Low) is a Junior Library Guild Selection. Gwendolyn is a Teaching Artist with the Oklahoma Arts Council and the Arts Council of Oklahoma City. She shares her love of writing by teaching all ages from preschoolers to senior citizens. Gwendolyn remains motivated by a student she met during an author visit early in her career. After Gwendolyn informed the class that she had a friend who had written one hundred books, the student looked at her display of four books and said, “You have a long way to go!” Motivated by his comment, Gwendolyn continues to write from her home in Oklahoma. You can find all her blog posts here. To contact Gwendolyn, visit her website.

Jeanne Marie Grunwell Ford holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College and is the author of five novels, including Mind Games (Houghton Mifflin). She writes for a soap opera by day when she is not busy teaching, freelancing, or driving the carpool. She is married to an amazing seventh-grade teacher and is the mother of two avid young readers and one ornery puppy. To contact Jeanne Marie, visit her website. You can find all Jeanne Marie's blog posts here. And you can read about how she became a TeachingAuthor here.

Jill Esbaum is the author of many books. Her picture books have been nominated to state award lists, named IRA Notable Children’s Books, and named to the CCBC’s Choices List. Jill also authors nonfiction titles for National Geographic, including the Angry Birds Playground series and others. Jill co-hosts the Whispering Woods Picture Book Writing Workshop/Retreat each July. To contact Jill, visit her website. You can find all Jill's blog posts here. And you can read about how she became a TeachingAuthor here.

JoAnn Early Macken is the author of Write a Poem Step by Step (Earlybird Press). Her newest picture books are Baby Says, “Moo!” (Disney-Hyperion), Waiting Out the Storm (Candlewick Press), and Flip, Float, Fly: Seeds on the Move (Holiday House). Her poems appear in a number of magazines and anthologies, and she has also written more than 125 nonfiction books for young readers. JoAnn earned her M.F.A. in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She teaches writing at three Wisconsin colleges, and she speaks about poetry and writing to children and adults at schools, libraries, and conferences. To contact JoAnn, visit her website. You can find all JoAnn's blog posts here.

Laura Purdie Salas is the author of more than 120 books for kids and teens, including two rhyming nonfiction books from Millbrook Press: Water Can Be ... and A Leaf Can Be ... (Bank Street Best Books, IRA Teachers' Choice, Minnesota Book Award Finalist, Riverby Award for Nature Books for Young Readers, and more), and Bookspeak! Poems About Books, published by Clarion (Minnesota Book Award, NCTE Notable, Bank Street Best Book, Eureka! Gold Medal, and more). She loves to introduce kids to poetry and help them find poems they can relate to, no matter what their age, mood, and personality, and she loves to get teachers excited about sharing poetry in their classrooms. She has also written numerous nonfiction books. See more about Laura and her work at her website. You can find all Laura's blog posts here. And you can read about how she became a TeachingAuthor here.