Esm Raji Codell
Chicago, IL, US
Esmé Raji Codell's love of writing started early in her childhood when she began keeping diaries at the age of seven. Her diary collection grew so large that when her special doll buggy hiding place was full she started filling her bed through a hole in her boxspring. At the age of eight Codell got her first real gig writing columns for a small independent newspaper, In These Times, where she was sent to review movies from a kid's-eye view.Â Her writing did not stop there, Codell went on to start an underground newspaper, wrote a regular column in a collector's magazine, Stickers & Stuff, and wrote to over 200 pen pals.
Codell has been a teacher, school librarian and children’s bookseller.Â Her years of experience with children and reading have given Codell a strong foundation to pull from in her writing.Â This is especially evident in Codell’s book, How to Get Your Child to Love Reading: For Ravenous and Reluctant Readers Alike, where she offers reading inspiration and ideas to parents and educators.
After leaving teaching to write full-time, Codell missed the children so much that she was inspired to write a new book, Sahara Special, to bring her back to her classroom experiences.Â She says, “I realized that by writing a classroom story, I could have a vicarious classroom and revisit all the things that go on there.Â I found that writing is a lot like teaching, in fact, both are about communicating.Â Both are about sharing something honest and useful in the hopes it will help someone else along, help people recognize themselves not only for who they are but who they can be.”
Codell’s success as a children’s literature specialist has allowed her speaking opportunities with the International Reading Association and the American Library Association. She gave a “virtual” keynote for the National Education Association's “Stay Afloat!” online conference for first-year teachers and was dubbed “Generation X's answer to Bel Kaufman and Frank McCourt” in February's NEA Today. Codell has also been a featured speaker at the National Museum for Women in the Arts and has appeared on CBS This Morning and CNN. With all these activities Codell still finds the time to run the popular children's literature web site, PlanetEsme.com.
When Codell is not running from state to state for speaking engagements she resides in Chicago with her husband and son.