Angela Johnson

The author of children’s pictures books, young adult novels, and poetry focusing on African-American families, Johnson is particularly well known for her Coretta Scott King Award-winning works The First Part Last (2004); Heaven (1999); and Toning the Sweep (1994).

Her first picture book, Tell Me a Story, Mama (published in 1991) won the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award.

While working as a nanny for children’s writer Cynthia Rylant, the young Johnson was mentored by the established author.

Many of her works, including her lyrical poetry collection The Other Side: Shorter Poems, paint a vivid picture of the history and character of her home state of Alabama. Though she was born in Tuskegee, Alabama, she actually spent most of her youth in Windham, Ohio.

She collaborated with illustrator Dav Pilkey on the 1993 picture book Julius.—From


Books by Angela Johnson:


To learn more about Angela Johnson:


To read an interview with Angela Johnson:

“In elementary school, Angela Johnson had a special teacher who could create worlds with words. She would read stories after lunch and make characters spring up around Johnson: “Book people came to life,” Johnson shared in one interview. “They sat beside me in Maple Grove School. That is when I knew.”

Johnson wanted to be a writer.”-  From an interview with Kelly Starling Lyons on


Honors and Awards received by Angela Johnson: