© 2021
In touch with the world ... at home on the High Plains
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Joyce Carol Thomas, Children’s Author Who Brought Rural Oklahoma to Life, Dies at 78

Mike Kepka
The San Francisco Chronicle

This month the US lost one of its great children’s authors. Joyce Carol Thomas rose to prominence through highlighting her experience as an African American in rural Oklahoma.

Thomas wrote books and poems for children and young adults that accented her heritage, work that eventually garnered he a National Book Award. She grew up working in Oklahoma cotton fields, and published her first book, Marked by Fire, in 1982.

As The Washington Post reports, the book was “quickly recognized as a modern classic of young people’s literature.” Thomas never ceased drawing inspiration from her experiences as a girl in rural Oklahoma. She was passionate about telling the undiscovered stories of American Americans. She once said, “There are black American stories somewhere between slavery and ghetto that also deserve telling.”

Thomas died Aug. 13 at a hospital in Palo Alto, Calif. She was 78.