kids encyclopedia robot

Sue Alexander facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Sue Alexander
Born Sue Lynn Ratner
(1933-08-20)August 20, 1933
Tucson, Arizona
Died July 3, 2008(2008-07-03) (aged 74)
Los Angeles, California
Occupation Writer
Language English
Nationality American
Education Drake University, Northwestern University
Genres realistic fiction, fantasy
Notable work Nadia the Willful (1983)
Years active 1969–2001
Spouse Joel Alexander
Children 3

Sue Alexander (August 20, 1933 – July 3, 2008) was an American writer of children's literature. She authored 26 books for children as well as "scores of stories" for newspapers and magazines. She was also a children's book reviewer for the Los Angeles Times. She was a charter member and advisory board member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, which established two awards in her name in recognition of her efforts to educate and mentor aspiring writers.

Early life and education

Sue Lynn Ratner was born in Tucson, Arizona, to Jack M. Ratner and Edith Pollock Ratner. Her family was Jewish. She had one younger brother. When she was a year old her family relocated to Los Angeles and when she was five they moved to Chicago. Sue Lynn was "small and uncoordinated for her age", and her mother encouraged her to spend her time reading. She became an avid reader, and also enjoyed telling over stories and making up stories to entertain herself and others.

She studied at Drake University from 1950 to 1952, and then transferred to Northwestern University for one year. She originally planned to become a journalist, but while attending Northwestern decided to major in psychology instead. She dropped out of college in her senior year to get married, and gave birth to her first child, a son, in 1956. She divorced her first husband and moved back to Los Angeles, where her parents also lived. In November 1959 she remarried to Joel Alexander, with whom she had another son and a daughter.

Writing career

Her mother's death in 1967 prompted Alexander to "do something with my life that would have pleased my mother" and she began writing short stories for young readers. Her stories were published in the Los Angeles Times, Children's Playmate, Weekly Reader, and World of Disney, but she did not achieve success until the publication of her first book, Small Plays for You and a Friend, in 1973. She went on to publish 26 titles between 1973 and 2001.

Her most acclaimed book was Nadia the Willful (1983), which depicts the grief of a Bedouin girl whose brother has died. Alexander developed the story out of her own distress over her younger brother's death and her father's unwillingness to discuss it. Lila on the Landing (1987), drawn from her experience growing up in Chicago, described the loneliness of a girl who is rejected by her peers. While writing in different genres, including realistic fiction and fantasy, Alexander noted that the common theme in all her books is "the importance of feelings".

Other activities

In 1968 Alexander became a charter member of the Society of Children's Book Writers (later renamed Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators). Alexander invested much time in building the organization and mentoring aspiring writers. She served as chair of the SCBWI advisory board for 33 years, coordinator of the Golden Kite Award for 25 years, joint coordinator of the annual Southern California SCBWI conference for 25 years, and Southern California office manager for 20 years. The organization expanded from an initial membership of three to more than 12,000 members by the time of her death.

Alexander was also a board member of the Children's Literature Council of Southern California, and a member of the Friends of Children and Libraries and the California Readers' Association.

She taught courses on picture book writing at the University of California, Los Angeles. From 1998 to 2007 she was a children's book reviewer for the Los Angeles Times.

Awards and honors

In 1980 Alexander received the Dorothy C. McKenzie Award from the Southern California Council of Literature for Children and Young People "for distinguished contributions to the field of children's literature". Her book Nadia the Willful received the Friends of Children and Libraries FOCAL Award for Outstanding Contributions to Children and Literature from the Los Angeles Central Library; the Notable Children's Book in the Field of Social Studies; the 1984 Children's Book of the Year from the Child Study Association; and the 1984 Distinguished Work of Fiction award from the Southern California Council of Literature for Children and Young People.

In 1996 the international SCBWI established the Sue Alexander Most Promising New Work Award, which helps writers of new manuscripts connect with editors and agents. The Southern California branch of the SCBWI honored Alexander's contribution with the establishment of the Sue Alexander Service and Encouragement Award, which recognizes the organization's volunteers.

Death and legacy

Alexander died on July 3, 2008 at her home in West Hills, Los Angeles, at the age of 74.

The Sue Alexander Papers, containing manuscripts, galleys, and correspondence related to Alexander's books and short stories, are housed at the De Grummond Children's Literature Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Alexander wrote the following books for young readers:


  • Behold the Trees (2001)
  • There's More...Much More (1987)
  • Witch, Goblin and Ghost Are Back (1985)
  • World Famous Muriel (1984)
  • Witch, Goblin and Ghost in the Haunted Woods (1981)
  • Seymour the Prince (1979)
  • Marc the Magnificent (1978)
  • Small Plays for Special Days (1977)


  • America's Own Holidays (1988)
kids search engine
Sue Alexander Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.