Jewell Parker Rhodes

Jewell Parker Rhodes has always loved reading and writing stories. Born and raised in Manchester, a largely African-American neighborhood on the North Side of Pittsburgh, she was a voracious reader as a child. She began college as a dance major, but when she discovered there were novels by African Americans, for African Americans, she knew she wanted to be an author. She wrote six novels for adults, two writing guides, and a memoir, but writing for children remained her dream.

Now Jewell has published five children’s books: Ninth WardSugarBayou Magic, Towers Falling, and most recently the #1 Kids’ Indie Next Pick Ghost Boys. When she’s not writing, she’s visiting schools to talk about her books with the kids who read them, or teaching writing at Arizona State University, where she is the Piper Endowed Chair and Founding Artistic Director of the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing.

Jewell has received numerous honors including: the American Book Award, the National Endowment of the Arts Award in Fiction, the Black Caucus of the American Library Award for Literary Excellence, the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award for Outstanding Writing, and two Arizona Book Awards. Ninth Ward, her first novel for young readers, was named a Coretta Scott King Honor Book, a Notable Book for a Global Society, and a Today Show Al’s Book Club for Kids Selection. Her work has been published in China, Korea, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Turkey and the United Kingdom, and reproduced in audio for NPR’s “Selected Shorts.” Her adult fiction books include: Voodoo Dreams, Magic City, Douglass’ Women, Season, Moon, Hurricane. Her nonfiction books include: Free Within Ourselves: Fiction Lessons for Black Authors, The African American Guide to Writing and Publishing Nonfiction and Porch Stories: A Grandmother’s Guide to Happiness.

Block Party

block party

Jewell Parker Rhodes reminisces about growing up in Manchester, Pittsburgh – the relationships she built with her neighbors, the games she played with her friends, and the big block parties that brought everyone together.

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