Julius Lester was born on January 27th in St. Louis. He grew up in Kansas and Nashville, graduating from Fisk University with a BA in English. A musician from a very young age, he plays guitar, banjo, clarinet, and piano.
He co-wrote a book with Pete Seeger entitled, The 12-String Guitar as Played by Leadbelly, which was published in 1967. Mr. Lester has hosted radio and television shows and written many books for adults. His publisher suggested he try writing for children.
The result was To Be a Slave, the results of his interests because three of his great-grandparents had been slaves. "I wanted to communicate to others that those we call slaves were really human beings, human beings pretty much like us." To Be a Slave received a Newbery Honor, Long Journey Home was a National Book Award finalist, and John Henry received the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award and a Caldecott Honor. In 2006, Day of Tears was named the Coretta Scott King Award winner, honoring the author.
Mr. Lester lives and works in Boston.