Cynthia’s Articles & Videos

By Cynthia

Ready for the Challenge by Cynthia Leitich Smith from Literacy Today. PEEK: “In pushing back against misconceptions, prejudice, and erasure, today’s Indigenous book creators are crushing the myth of extinction, both on the page and as literary role models.”

Finding Friends (And Ourselves) In Books by Cynthia Leitich Smith from Harper Stacks. PEEK: “Native fiction…educates young readers, albeit at a slant, and often without them realizing that they are learning per se.

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About Cynthia Leitich Smith

Mini Bio

Cynthia Leitich Smith is the 2021 NSK Neustadt Laureate and a New York Times bestselling author of books for young readers, including HEARTS UNBROKEN, which won the American Indian Library Association’s Youth Literature Award. Her 2021 releases are the middle grade anthology ANCESTOR APPROVED: INTERTRIBAL STORIES FOR KIDS and novel SISTERS OF THE NEVERSEA.

She is also the author-curator of Heartdrum, a Native-focused imprint at HarperCollins Children’s Books, and serves as the Katherine Paterson Inaugural Endowed Chair on the faculty of the MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

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Writing Life

(Or… Why’d You Go to Law School Anyway?)

It’s not a bad question.

I’ve wondered once or twice myself.

After all, the experience did result in a decent amount of stress, lost sleep, and about seventy thousand dollars in student debt (though I did meet some of my best friends and learned I could compete academically on a national level).

At the time, I’d planned to become a legal reporter for a major metropolitan newspaper.

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Book Awards & Honors

for Cynthia Leitich Smith

  • 2021 Neustadt NSK Laureate (Winner of the NSK Prize for Children’s Literature)
  • Austin chapter of SCBWI instituted the Cynthia Leitich Smith Mentor Award (2014)
  • Spirit of Texas YA Author, chosen by the Texas Library Association (2012, 2013)
  • Illumine Award Author, chosen by the Friends of the Austin Public Library (2013)


  • Notable Children’s Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies and a Selector’s Choice for 2001
  • Named to the 2001 2 x 2 Reading List of twenty books recommended for children ages two through second grade by the Texas Library Association
  • Finalist,

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About the Author: Long Version

At the Illumine Award Banquet

Cynthia Leitich Smith is a best-selling, award-winning children’s-YA writer, writing teacher, and the author-curator of the Native-centered Heartdrum imprint at HarperCollins Children’s Books. She also is the 2021 NSK Neustadt Laureate.

Her novel HEARTS UNBROKEN is the 2020 winner of the American Indian Youth Literature Award in the YA division, given by the American Indian Library Association.

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Teacher Guides for Cynthia Leitich Smith’s Books

Reading Group Guide for Blessed


BLESSED (Candlewick, 2011).


Reading Group Guide: Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith: features introduction; excerpt; discussion questions; author biography; author interview; and acclaim. Quick-print format.

Reading Group Guide for Eternal

EternalETERNAL (Candlewick, 2008, 2010).


Reading Group Guide: Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith: features introduction;

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