Angela Johnson (writer)
Angela Johnson (born June 18, 1961) is an American poet and writer of children's books, with over 40 books to her credit since beginning her writing career in 1989. Her children's picture books are simple yet poetic stories about African-American families, friendships, and common childhood experiences such as moving. Her books for older children revolve around similar themes but also explore deeper issues such as teen pregnancy and divorce. In all, the characters are realistic and the treatment sensitive, positive, and hopeful. Many of Johnson's books have Alabama connections and several treat Alabama history, as do her picture books A Sweet Smell of Roses about the Selma to Montgomery marches of 1965 and Wind Flyers about the Tuskegee Airmen, as well as her collection of lyrical poems The Other Side: Shorter Poems, which evoke Shorter, Alabama.
Johnson was born in Tuskegee, Alabama. She grew up in Windham, Ohio with her brother and parents. Like many successful people, she can recall one special teacher who read to her, thus sparking a love of books that would blossom into a love of writing. She wrote throughout her childhood. Although she attended Kent State University, she left before earning her degree to focus on her writing. During this time, she worked as a nanny and was employed by author Cynthia Rylant, who reviewed Johnson's work and forwarded it to her own publisher. Johnson credits this connection with giving her the "break" that launched her career. She expects to be a writer until she dies.
Angela Johnson as writer and Dav Pilkey as illustrator collaborated on a picture book, Julius. They used her childhood pictures for a sketch of the girl named Maya.
Angela Johnson has won awards for both picture books and novels. She won the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award for Tell Me a Story, Mama in 1991. She has won the Coretta Scott King Award three times, for Toning the Sweep in 1994, Heaven in 1999, and The First Part Last in 2004. (She is a two-time runner-up for When I Am Old With You in 1990 and The Other Side, Shorter Poems in 1998.) She won the Michael L. Printz Award from the American Library Association in 2004, recognizing The First Part Last as the year's "best book written for teens, based entirely on its literary merit". In 2003 Johnson received a McArthur Genius Grant.
Interview about her young adult novels:
- Classroom Resources
Lesson Plan for When I Am Old With You:
Lesson Plan for Tell Me A Story:
Lesson Plan for Do Like Kyla:
Lesson Plan for Wind Flyers:
Lesson Plans for Chapter Books: