Fran Manushkin was born in 1942 in Chicago, Illinois. She attended the University of Illinois and Roosevelt University and received her Bachelor's degree from Chicago Teachers College, now Northeastern Illinois University. After a short stint teaching elementary school, Manushkin decided to abandon teaching and move to New York City, which she did by getting a job at the Illinois pavilion at the 1964 World's Fair. She worked briefly as a tour guide for the then-brand-new Lincoln Center for Performing Arts and then went on to a career in publishing, eventually becoming a children's book editor.
Encouraged by her colleagues in publishing, Manushkin wrote her first picture book, Baby, in 1972. It has since been translated into eight other languages. Since then, she has gone on to write numerous well-received picture books and novels for young readers. In recent years, Manushkin has become known for her Jewish holiday stories, which focus on the joy and warmth of family traditions. Some of these stories include, Miriam's Cup: A Passover Story, The Matzah That Papa Brought Home, and Latkes and Appleasuce: A Hannukah Story.
Fran Manushkin still lives in her adopted home of New York City, where she enjoys reading, swimming, book collecting, bird watching, cat watching, and going to movies and the theater.