Born in Hollywood, California, on January 28,
1927, Vera B. Williams moved to the Bronx,
New York, as a young child. Growing up,
Williams and her sister, Naomi, were close
and were encouraged to explore the arts. In
high school, Williams discovered her passion
and skill for design and decided to attend
Black Mountain College where she earned
a Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Art. After
marrying a college classmate, Vera had three
children and taught from 1953-1982.
Once her children were
grown, Vera began
to devote her time to
writing and illustrating
children’s books. Her
first book was It’s a
Bake it, Build it, Eat it!
However, it was not until
she wrote Three Days on a River in a Red Canoe that her
popularity began to rise. Rosa, her trilogy featuring a Hispanic girl living with
her grandmother, has proven to be her cornerstone project. The first book in this
series, called A Chair for My Mother, was featured on “Reading Rainbow.”
Vera B. Williams was presented with the NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s
Literature from the University of Oklahoma and World Literature Today in 2009.
How important are illustrations for books? Can children’s books be
impactful without illustrations? Can a book for adults be as effective if
it contains pictures? Discuss your answer with your
classmates. If you could illustrate one book, what
would it be and why?
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