Scholastic Kids Press Corps
The Scholastic Kids Press Corps is a team of about 50 Kid Reporters around the nation.  The interactive site brings daily news to life with reporting for kids, by kids.
author nikki grimes Author Nikki Grimes (Photo: ┬ęSteve Elliot)

Author Nikki Grimes Exercises

Work that writing muscle to follow this author's success

By Ana Deluca-Mayne | February 4 , 2010

Exercise is a big part of author Nikki Grimes' life, but it's not just any muscle she works out six-days a week.

"Writing is a muscle that needs to be exercised," she told the Scholastic Kids Press Corps in a recent interview.

Exercising that muscle has paid off for this author of more than 40 children's books. Grimes has been writing since she was 6 years old. She is the author of the Dyamonde Daniel series; Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope; Oh, Brother!; and The Road to Paris—just to name a few. She received the 2006 NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children and the Coretta Scott King Author Honor for several of her books—again, just to mention a few.

nikki grime book covers
Just some of the books written by Nikki Grimes.

Although Grimes was born and grew up in New York City, she now lives in California. She said she had a rough start as a child, living in a foster home at one time. None of that stopped her from writing, however. Her first work was penned while living in the foster home.

Her stories rarely venture far from her birthplace, and often reflect her life.

"The urban landscape is always, almost always, the background of the story," Grimes said. "Something about your life always makes its way into your stories. That's just the nature of the beast."

As a teenager, Grimes said she was very influenced by the writings of James Baldwin, a famous author who mentored her. Baldwin taught Grimes to write with her heart and to study her craft.
Writing isn't the only art that Grimes enjoys. Her musician father introduced her to the violin, ballet, and visual arts. He often took her to hear authors speak and encouraged her to follow her dreams.
Her goal was always to be a children's author. It just seemed to happen, she said.

"Originally I had planned to write just a couple of children's books and then, return the focus on adult literature," she said. "A funny thing happened along the way—I kept having new ideas and then I looked up one day, and 30 years had past!"
Grimes' most recent book, Out of the Dark, is different from her usual books. The 56-page paperback is an autobiography. Grimes explained the difference.

"In Out of the Dark, I'm talking about my own life, I'm not talking as a character, or speaking as a character," she said. "I was not as free as when I write fiction."
As a seasoned author, Grimes has some important advice for anyone aspiring to follow in her footsteps: read, read, read, and write, write, write.

"Read, because you cannot be a good writer if you're not first a good reader," she said.

Young writers should read about a variety of subjects, not just a few topics of high interest.

"Every genre has something to offer," she said.

Which brings us back to exercising that writing muscle.

"You can't be good at it without doing it a lot," Grimes said.

For more about author Nikki Grimes and her books and awards, check out her official website.


For more on the achievements and contributions of African Americans to U.S. History, return to the Scholastic Kids Press Corps' Black History Month Special Report.


Get the latest on national and international events, movies, television, music, sports, and more from the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.

About the Author

Ana Deluca-Mayne is a member of the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.

  • Teacher Store
  • The Teacher Store  
    On the Record & ID Alternate Bundle

    On the Record & ID Alternate Bundle

    ID and On the Record are based on a collaborative classroom model, each approach literacy development as a rich, dynamic collaboration between teachers and students. Built on passionate yet inherently practical goals, the ID and On the Record follow three principles.

    1) Students work with Enabling Texts: Enabling texts are books or stories which, being authored by writers who themselves have overcome adversity, resonate deeply with young readers.

    2) Students use writing as a mode self-discovery and social action: ID and On the Record use writing to allow teens to explore their place in the world and put their voices on record.

    3) Students use four foundational platforms to help define themselves: Dr. Tatum’s four platforms provide progressively broader contexts for intellectual development, beginning with establishing individual identity and expanding to envisioning oneself as an active participant in society at large. The four learning platforms are:
    a. Define Self
    b. Become Resilient
    c. Engage Others
    d. Build Capacity

    On the Record Inspires Students to Read with Skill, Write with Passion and Live with Purpose.
    Developed by Dr. Alfred Tatum and Erin Gruwell, founder of the Freedom Writers Foundation, On the Record tells stories of perseverance and transformation in paired profiles of contemporary figures such as Amy Tan, Sherman Alexie, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Sonia Nazario that inspire continued inquiry, reading and writing.

    ID Engages Readers, Empowers Writers and Improves ELA Skills.
    Developed by Dr. Alfred Tatum, ID’s compelling texts and rigorous writing activities prepare students for the academic challenges ahead. Based on a collaborative model, ID workshops explore identity and differing life experiences while inspiring a deeper engagement with literary traditions.

    To find out more about these engaging programs, please visit the following links:
    On the Record

    $1,233.00 You save: 25%
    Paperback Book Collection | Grades 7-12
    Add To Cart
    Educators Only
    On the Record & ID Alternate Bundle
    Grades 7-12 $1,233.00
    Add To Cart
  • Teacher Store
  • The Teacher Store  
    Scholastic Scope

    Scholastic Scope

    Scholastic Scope brings you the thrilling texts and challenging reader tasks you need to build language arts skills! Every issue features narrative or informational nonfiction, drama, paired texts, fiction, and many other essential genres! Each highly engaging text is supported by a wealth of skills sheets designed to prepare your students for higher–level assessments and state tests. Subscriptions include full access to Scope Online featuring dazzling videos, writing prompts, and challenging skills sheets. Grades 6—8, Monthly.

    Classroom Magazine | Grades 6-12
    Add To Cart
    Educators Only
    Scholastic Scope
    Grades 6-12 $8.99
    Add To Cart
Privacy Policy




Here's something interesting from