• Cynthia Leitich Smith is a best-selling, award-winning children’s-YA writer, writing teacher, and the author-curator of the Native-centered Heartdrum imprint at HarperCollins Children’s Books. She is the 2021 NSK Laureate.

    Her debut picture book, JINGLE DANCER, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu, is widely considered a modern classic. She was named Writer of the Year by Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers for RAIN IS NOT MY INDIAN NAME and won the American Indian Youth Literature Award for Young Adult Books for HEARTS UNBROKEN, which also was named to YALSA’s Amelia Bloomer list and received the Foreword Reviews Silver Medal in Young Adult Fiction. In addition, Cynthia is the New York Times and Publishers Weekly bestselling YA author of the TANTALIZE series and FERAL trilogy.

    Forthcoming, Cynthia looks forward to the release of her middle grade anthology ANCESTOR APPROVED: INTERTRIBAL STORIES FOR KIDS, her novel SISTERS OF THE NEVERSEA, and THE BLUE STARS middle grade graphic novel series, co-authored by Kekla Magoon and illustrated by Molly Murakami.

    Cynthia lives in Austin, Texas and is a citizen of the Muscogee Creek Nation. The Austin chapter of SCBWI has instituted the Cynthia Leitich Smith Mentor Award in her honor. She also serves on the faculty of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults and leads the annual We Need Diverse Books Native Writing Intensive.

    Cynthia holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and a J.D. from The University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor. She studied law abroad at Paris-Sorbonne University.


  • Any child can be a hero that everybody cheers!

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