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Children's Author | Patricia McKissack
Patricia McKissack and Frederick McKissack | John L. White/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, via Associated Press
Patricia McKissack was born in Tennessee. She and her husband, Fredrick, moved their family to Missouri, and it was there that they raised three boys and launched their careers. As a child, Patricia McKissack spent many hours listening to her family tell stories and read poetry to her. Her mother loved Paul Laurence Dunbar and Patricia’s ears could never hear enough of his poetry. So later, as a junior high English teacher, when Patricia struggled to find a book for young readers about her favorite poet, Paul Laurence Dunbar, she decided to write one herself.* Soon Patricia decided to become a full-time writer and her husband decided to join her in this endeavor by doing the historical research for her writing. They were an amazing team. Even her grown sons collaborated with their mother on some stories. In her lifetime, Patricia authored and co-authored over 100 books.
When asked, “Why do you write?” Patricia says, “I write because there is a need to have books for, by, and about the African American experience and how we helped to develop this country." Patricia crafted her stories with grace and truth. She never wanted to make her reader feel the blame of generations but at the same time she wanted her reader to learn and hear a new story. She did not preach but, in her words, “When you close that book what are you left with? What ideas have you formulated from reading this book? The worst thing a book can do is to tell you what to think. You close the book and you have your own thoughts about what you learned from that book."