Remembering Author-Illustrator Ashley Bryan

We're reflecting on the life and work of renowned children’s book author and illustrator Ashley Bryan, who has died at the age of 98.

We celebrate and remember Ashley Bryan for his vibrant depiction of Black life and history.

During a career that spanned over six decades, Mr. Bryan created more than 70 books for children, including stories about the Black experience in America, anthologies of poetry and African folktales.

Fellow author Jason Reynolds paid tribute to Ashley Bryan in an obituary by The Washington Post, opens a new window, saying, "He had this way of connecting our current life, specifically Black children’s current lives, to the lives of our ancestors."

Bryan got an early start in writing and illustrating at just six years old by making his own picture books and passing them out to friends at school. He went on to win top literary awards including the Coretta Scott King Award and a Newbery Honor. Frequent trips to Kenya, where he helped build schools and libraries, inspired Bryan’s art. His most famous book, Beautiful Blackbird, was written when Mr. Bryan was 81.

The Washington Post obituary also shared how, when Reynolds asked for the secret to his long life, Bryan replied, “I don’t have any survival skills. I don’t really know how to cook or clean. All I know is I wake up every morning and I make art.”

In honor of his life and life's work, here are some of our favorite books by Ashley Bryan:

Beautiful Blackbird

Infinite Hope

Freedom Over Me

Ashley Bryan's Puppets

Can't Scare Me!

We welcome your respectful and on-topic comments and questions in this limited public forum. To find out more, please see Appropriate Use When Posting Content. Community-contributed content represents the views of the user, not those of San Mateo County Libraries