Meredith is a picture book author who strives to tell authentic stories that reflect kids’ uniqueness, wonder, and magic. She sees literature as a powerful way to both share joy as well as explore and discuss important issues with children. She is an activist and advocate, passionate about equity, anti-racism, and anti-oppression work in the kidlit world and beyond. She is also a children’s librarian, and a frequent presenter on how to talk with kids about race. She lives in San Francisco with her two sons.

Things I love

  • My favorite color has always been orange, I love it so much that I recently painted the front door of my house bright orange.
  • My favorite kind of macaroni and cheese is the kind from a box, where the cheese is powder.
  • Favorite food: all kinds of cheese (mostly the not-powdered kind), second favorite food: pasta (are you sensing a theme?).
  • I love karaoke. I don’t sound very good, but what I lack in talent, I make up for with enthusiasm. Whitney Houston is a favorite.
  • I love miniatures, I write mini letters and make mini things, especially mini books.
  • When I see a rainbow, I stop everything I’m doing to look. They enchant me. I’ve also seen a moonbow, which is pretty cool too.
  • I love and have always loved picture books: not only do you get a great story but also you get a piece of art on every page – each book is like a small art museum, and I think that’s awesome.
  • I love audiobooks. Other than picture books, I listen to books way more than I “read.”
  • I’ll play any board or card game you ask me to, as long as you’re willing to teach me how.
  • My family and friends are really important to me. I have one son in high school and one in college, and I love that they are people I would enjoy hanging out with, even if they weren’t my kids.
  • In addition to writing, I love to do creative things like printmaking, crafting, knitting, and playing ukulele.
  • I love parentheses (and I’m not going to stop using them, even if they go out of style).
  • I grew up in a land-locked state (Kentucky) and moved to San Francisco about three decades ago. I still get a thrill that I can travel for 20 minutes and end up at the ocean.

When I was a kid

  • I was born and mostly grew up in Lexington, KY (with a few years in Houston, TX) with my mom, dad, and older sister.
  • I was very proud of a poem I wrote called “The Old House on Elm Street,” about a very big mouse (rhymes with house) that scared everyone, including rats and cats (again with the rhyming). I still have (most of) it memorized.
  • A book I made about feelings was called “Suns have Fellings to, Yes They Do,” (there were a few misspellings in it). I flattened cupcake wrappers then glued them on the pages to make the suns, and I drew a different face on each sun representing an emotion: happy, sad, angry, etc.
  • When I got new toys that had electric or mechanical parts, I always wanted to know how they worked. So, I would open them up to see inside. Often (usually) in this process, I broke them in some way, so I played with a lot of toys that were supposed to have electronic or moving parts that didn’t.
  • I loved to make potions – which I also called “concoctions.” I would put toothpaste, lotion, baby powder, and whatever else I could find in a bottle and mix it all up. It was always pretty gross (which I liked) and not useful for anything (which I didn’t care about). The process was definitely more important than the product.
  • I have fond memories of my mom reading Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats to me as a child, and now I sometimes read it to 40 toddlers during storytime. It always makes me smile.

A word about diversity and representation in children’s books

I believe deeply in Dr. Rudine Sims-Bishop’s concept that literature should provide ALL children with mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors, (Rudine Sims Bishop, “Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors,” 1990). Mirrors are particularly important for children from groups traditionally underrepresented in children’s literature, like children of color and Indigenous children. Racism and other forms of oppression are present in the kidlit world, as in society as a whole. I believe literature has the power to transform lives, which means we must hold literature to a high standard, and we must work hard to push back against racism, underrepresentation, and misrepresentation in books and in the industry itself. To get a sense of the depth of need to bring more diversity and authenticity to children’s literature, take a look at the Diversity in Children’s Books 2018 Infographic based on data compiled by the Cooperative Children’s Books Center (University of Wisconsin-Madison, School of Education). Sarah Park Dahlen facilitated the creation of the infographic, which was illustrated by David Huyck.