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Greenfield was born in Parmele, North Carolina, on May 17, 1929.
The second oldest of five children, she moved, as an infant, with
her family to Washington, D.C. She studied piano as a child and
teenager. She loved music, movies, and books.
a young wife and
in her early twenties, while working as a clerk-typist at the
U. S. Patent Office, Ms. Greenfield began a search for satisfying
work. She found it in writing.
several years of study and rejections from publishers, Ms. Greenfield
her first poem published in the Hartford Times in 1962. Her first
book was published in 1972. She is now the author of more than
45 books for children -- poetry, biography, picture books and
older fiction. She says her mission is twofold: (1) to contribute
to the development of a large body of African American literature
for children and (2) to continue to fill her life with the joy
of creating with words.
Ms. Greenfield is the recipient of
the 2018 Coretta Scott King–Virginia Hamilton Award for
Lifetime Achievement. When the award was announced, Deborah D.
Taylor, the award committee chair said, “Eloise Greenfield
is a trailblazer whose extraordinary books of poetry and prose
have influenced many and continue to resonate with children today.
Her rich body of work inspires and enriches readers.” Ms.
Greenfield has received many other honors, including the Coretta
Scott King Award for Africa Dream. The Great Migration:
Journey to the North was a Coretta Scott King Author Honor
and also an ALA 2012 Notable Children's Book. She received
the Carter G. Woodson Award for Rosa Parks. For Honey,
I Love and Other Love Poems, she received the 1990 Recognition
of Merit Award, presented by the George G. Stone Center for Children's
Books. She received the Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor
Award for Childtimes: A Three-Generation Memoir, written
with her mother, Lessie Jones Little. Furthermore, In the
Land of Words was named a 2005 Notable Children's Book in
the Language Arts (Children's Literature Assembly/NCTE). When
the Horses Ride By and The Friendly Four were
chosen for the CCBC's (Cooperative Children's Book Center's) 2007
Choices. The Friendly Four was further included on the
2007 Texas 2x2 Reading List for ages 2 to grades 2. On February
23, 2013, she was one of twenty African American women who received
the Living Legacy Award from the Association for the Study of
African American Life and History (ASALH), an organization founded
by Carter G. Woodson.
has received the Hope S. Dean Award from the Foundation for Children's
Literature; the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children,
given for a body of work to a living American poet; the Virginia
Hamilton Literary Award; the Hurston/Wright Foundation's North
Star Award for lifetime achievement; and a lifetime achievement
award from the Moonstone Celebration of Black Writing. In 1999,
Ms Greenfield was inducted into the National Literary Hall of
Fame for Writers of African Descent. For her body of work, she
also received the 2007 Wheatley Book Award, sponsored by Quarterly
Black Books Review as part of the Harlem Book Fair.
In 2008, Ms. Greenfield was selected for a Vanguard Spotlight
by The Brown Bookshelf, who interviews a number of authors. Her
interview appeared in February 2008 on thebrownbookshelf.com.
There is also a beautifully designed poster of all the authors
interviewed that can be downloaded from their website. Furthermore,
excerpts from Childtimes: A Three-Generation Memoir are
included in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American
History and Culture, Community Galleries, "Power of Place
Greenfield enjoys working with and for young people. Through her
work, she wants to give them words that nourish the spirit --
"words to love, to grow on." She has said, "I love
working with words. Sometimes they come almost as if by magic.
Other times, I feel a kind of pain in struggling to find the right
ones. But I keep struggling because I want to do my best and I
want children to have the best."
Greenfield lives in Washington, D. C. She is the mother of a son
and a daughter and the grandmother of four. You can see her on
when she was honored at the Author's
Pavilion at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Conference,
and be sure to follow her on Twitter!