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Nelson was born in Washington, DC, the son of author and motivational speaker Emily-Diane Gunter. He received his early training in art from his uncle, Michael Morris,who was an artist and art instructor.Nelson graduated from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York.
- Illustrations only unless otherwise indicated.
- Brothers of the Knight by Debbie Allen. Dial, 1999.
- Big Jabe by Jerdine Nolen. HarperCollins, 2000.
- Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream by Deloris and Roslyn Jordan. Simon & Schuster, 2000.
- Dancing in the Wings, Debbie Allen. Dial, 2000.
- Just the Two of Us by Will Smith. Scholastic, 2001.(NAACP Image Award)
- Please, Baby, Please by Spike and Tonya Lee. Simon & Schuster, 2002.
- Under the Christmas Tree by Nikki Grimes. HarperCollins, 2002.
- The Village that Vanished by Ann Grifalconi. Dial, 2002.
- Thunder Rose by Jerdine Nolen. Harcourt, 2003.
- Ellington Was Not a Street by Ntozake Shange. Simon & Schuster, 2004. (Coretta Scott King Author Award)
- He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, based on the traditional song lyrics. Dial, 2005.
- The Real Slam Dunk by Charisse Richardson. Dial, 2005.
- Hewitt Anderson’s Great Big Life by Jerdine Nolen. Simon & Schuster, 2005.
- Please, Puppy, Please by Spike and Tonya Lee. Simon & Schuster, 2005.
- Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom, by Carole Boston Weatherford, Hyperion/Jump at the Sun, 2006 (2007 Caldecott Honor book)
- Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad, Ellen Levine. Scholastic, 2007.(2008 Caldecott Honor book)
- Michael's Golden Rules by Deloris Jordan, introduction by Michael Jordan. Simon & Schuster, 2007.
- We Are the Ship:The Story of Negro League Baseball, written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson, foreword by Hank Aaron, Hyperion/Jump at the Sun, 2008.
- Abe's Hones Words, by Doreen Rappaport. Hyperion, 2008. ISBN 978-142310408-7
- Change Has Come: An Artist Celebrates Our American Spirit, quotations from Barack Obama, black and white line drawings by Kadir Nelson. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2009. ISBN 978-1-4169-8955-4
- Testing the Ice: A True Story About Jackie Robinson, by Sharon Robinson, Scholastic, 2009; ISBN 978-0-545-05251-1
- All God's Critters, song lyrics by Bill Staines, Simon & Schuster, 2009
- Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya, by Donna Jo Napoli, Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, 2010, ISBN 978-1-4169-3505-6
- A Nation's Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis, by Matt de la Peña, Dial Books, 2011, ISBN 978-0-8037-3167-7
- Nelson Mandela, written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson, 2013, ISBN 0061783749
- Baby Bear, written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson, 2014
Nelson is a two-time Caldecott Honor Award winner. He received an NAACP Image Award for the book Just the Two of Us. For his book, We Are The Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball, he received the 2008 CASEY Award for best baseball book, the 2009 Coretta Scott King Author Award, and the 2009 Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award. His book, Nelson Mandela, was a Coretta Scott King honor book in 2014.
Album cover art
On Friday, December 10, 2010, a 29,070-square-foot (2,701 m2) poster depicting the Michael album artwork was erected at the Rectory Farm in Middlesex, England, which broke a Guinness World Record for the largest poster in the world.
Nelson designed the pair of 44-cent U.S. postage stamps that were issued by the U.S. Postal Service in 2010, to honor Negro Leagues baseball, and a pair that honored basketball star Wilt Chamberlain in 2014.
- Johnson, Virginia, Author of the Month: Kadir Nelson," Librarypoint, Central Rapahannock Library District. Retrieved 3 July 2016
- "We are the ship; About the author and artist." Retrieved 3 July 2016
- "TheGrio's 100: Kadir Nelson, drawing from the past to illustrate hope" 02/01/2010
- ONCE UPON A WORLD CHILDREN'S BOOK AWARD, 2005 winner, Museum of Tolerance website
- 2009 Original Art: The Fine Art of Children's Book Illustrations, October 22, 2009 - November 25, 2009, Society of Illustrators website
- Big Jabe, HarperCollins website
- Salt in His Shoes, Simon & Schuster website
- Dancing in the Wings, Penguin USA website
- Just the Two of Us, Scholastic website
- Please, Baby, Please at Simon & Schuster website
- The Village that Vanished at Penguin USA website
- Ellington Was Not a Street at Simon & Schuster website
- He's Got the Whole World in His Hands at Penguin USA website
- The Real Slam Dunk at Scholastic website
- Hewitt Anderson's Great Big Life at Simon & Schuster website
- Please, Puppy, Please at Simon & Schuster website
- Moses at Disney Books website
- Michael's Golden Rules at Simon & Schuster website
- We Are the Ship website
- Margolick, David (April 8, 2011). "Children's Books - 'A Nation's Hope' and 'Bird in a Box'". The New York Times.
- "CASEY Award". Spitball: The Literary Baseball Magazine. Retrieved 2011-10-22.
- "Kadir Nelson wins 2009 Sibert Medal". American Library Association. January 26, 2009. Retrieved 2011-10-22.
- And the Newbery, Caldecott award winners are..., Ashley Strickland, CNN, January 27, 2014
- http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/51942/231058 "New Michael Jackson Album Out December 14", Jem Aswad, Rolling Stone Magazine, Nov 04, 2010
- "Michael Jackson Asked Album-Cover Artist To Paint Him Before He Died", Gil Kaufman, MTV News, Dec. 13, 2010
- "Michael Jackson Poster breaks records". 2010-12-10. Retrieved 2010-10-08.
- Krueger, Anne (May 6, 2010). "Negro Leagues players get stamp on history". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 2011-11-02.
Nelson said he’s not a huge baseball fan .... He’s more intrigued with the history of the league that provided the only way for black baseball players to compete professionally before Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color line with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.
- Davis, David (December 4, 2014). "Wilt the Stilt Becomes Wilt the Stamp". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-02-03.
Kadir Nelson, the artist who painted the images.... created two versions of the stamp. One shows Chamberlain in the act of shooting with his first N.B.A. team, the Philadelphia Warriors, for whom he started playing in 1959. The other depicts him rebounding for the Los Angeles Lakers, his final club, for whom he played from 1968 to 1973.
- Official website
- Nelson at AALBC.com
- Nelson at publisher Simon and Schuster
- Nelson at publisher HarperCollins
- Nelson at publisher Scholastic
- We Are the Ship children's book website
- Nelson biography, with further links, at Black Art Depot
- Nelson audio interview from December 3, 2007, at Children's Book Radio website
- Kadir Nelson on IMDb
- Interview about Change Has Come at Youtube.com (Simon & Schuster videos)
- Nelson at 2009 National Book Festival, Library of Congress
- Kadir Nelson at Library of Congress Authorities, with 33 catalog records