Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Jan Spivey Gilchrist  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction

Audience: Children;

Born: in Chicago, Illinois

-- Website --
-- Jan Spivey Gilchrist on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Gilchrist was born in Chicago and currently lives in Olympia Fields, a suburb of Chicago. She graduated from Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.

Biographical and Professional Information

Jan Spivey Gilchrist is an artist, teacher, author and an illustrator. Her career as a fine artist has spanned a quarter of a century. She has exhibited extensively throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and the Caribbean. Ms. Gilchrist has won numerous awards and commissions throughout her career, including the ''Coretta Scott King Award'' for ''Nathaniel Talking'', and a ''Coretta Scott King Honor Book'' for ''Night on Neighborhood Street''. This book is also a Reading Rainbow Book. Ms. Gilchrist is also the author of two picture books, ''Indigo and Moonlight Gold'', and ''Madelia''. Gilchrist has illustrated many of Eloise Greenfield's books, including several award winners. ''In the Land of Words'' was named a 2005 Notable Children's Book in the Language Arts. ''When the Horses Ride By'' and ''The Friendly Four'' were chosen for the Cooperative Children's Book Center's 2007 Choices.Most recently, she wrote the Parents' Choice Award Winner ''My America'', which she co-illustrated with Ashley Bryan. An inductee into the International Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent, Ms. Gilchrist holds an MFA in writing for children and a doctoral degree in English.

Published Works

    Books Written and Illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrest:
  • Indigo and Moonlight Gold, Black Butterfly Children, 1993
  • Madelia, Dial, 1997
  • Obama: The Day the World Danced, Pegasus Books, 2009
  • We Are Shining, HarperCollins, 2017Illustrator for Eloise Greenfield Books:
  • Big Friend, Little Friend, Writers & Readers Publishing, 1991
  • My Doll Keshia, Writers & Readers Publishing, 1991
  • I Make Music, Writers & Readers Publishing, 1991
  • My Daddy and I, Writers & Readers Publishing, 1991
  • William and the Good Old Days, HarperCollins, 1993
  • Nathanial Talking, Writers & Readers Publishing, 1993
  • Sweet Baby Coming, HarperCollins, 1994
  • Night on Neighborhood Street , Puffin, 1996
  • Kia Tanisha, Harpercollins Childrens Books, 1997
  • For the Love of the Game: Michael Jordan and Me, HarperCollins, 1998
  • Water, Water, HarperFestival, 1999
  • I Can Draw a Weeposaur and Other Dinosaurs, Greenwillow Books, 2001
  • Easter Parade, Scholastic, 2001
  • How They Got Over: African Americans and the Call of the Sea, Amistad, 2002
  • Honey, I Love, Amistad, 2002
  • In the Land of Words: New and Selected Poems, Amistad, 2003
  • Me & Neesie, Amistad, 2004
  • On My Horse, Harperfestival, 2005
  • The Friendly Four, Amistad, 2006
  • When the Horses Ride By: Children in the Times of War, Lee & Low Books, 2006
  • Brothers & Sisters: Family Poems, Amistad, 2008
  • The Great Migration: Journey to the North, Amistad, 2010Illustrator for Individual Author Books:
  • Everett Anderson's Christmas Coming, Henry Holt and Co., 1993 - written by Lucille Clifton
  • Red Dog, Blue Fly: Football Poems, Puffin, 1995 - written by Sharon Bell Mathis
  • Waiting for Christmas, Scholastic, 1996 - written by Monica Greenfield
  • Singing Down the Rain, HarperCollins, 1997 - written by Joy Coley
  • Lemonade Sun: And Other Summer Poems, Boyds Mills Press, 2001 - written by Rebecca Kai Dotlich
  • Lift Ev'Ry Voice and Sing, Scholastic Paperbacks, 2002 - written by James Weldon Johnson
  • My America, HarperCollins, 2007 - illustrated with Ashley Bryan
  • Children of Long Ago, Lee and Low Books, 2008 - written by Lessie Jones Little
  • Secrets of the Seven Stars: Elly's Awakening, Pegasus Books, 2014 - written with Kelley Powell Barcellona
  • The Thumbtack Dancer, Alazar Press, 2017 - written by Leslie Tyron

Selected Titles At Your Library

Indigo and moonlight gold /
ISBN: 086316210X. OCLC Number:

Black Butterfly Children's Books :. New York :. ©1993.

A beautifully written narrative of a young girl's feelings and understanding of how her relationship with her mother will change with the passage of time.

Madelia /
ISBN: 0803720521. OCLC Number:

Dial Books for Young Readers,. New York :. ©1997.

Madelia would rather be painting with her new watercolors than going to church, but as she listens to her father's sermon, she is glad she came.

Obama :
ISBN: 0982409508. OCLC Number:

Pegasus Books for Children,. Flossmoor, IL :. ©2009.

Two girls have a sleepover on the night of November 4, 2008 to await the announcement of the 44th president of the United States.

We are shining /
ISBN: 0062570668. OCLC Number:

. .

A life-affirming poem, illustrated for the first time, intends to foster opportunity and acceptance for all the people and children of the world. Gwendolyn Brooks honors the beauty of our world, the story of shared humanity, and the many different people in it. She speaks to all children of the world in this moving poem about acceptance, stressing that every child should have the opportunity for a shining future and offering hope for a better tomorrow.

Big friend, little friend /
ISBN: 0863162045. OCLC Number:

Black Butterfly Children's Books :. New York :. 1991.

Illustrates the difference in activities and relationships between children of various ages.

My doll, Keshia /
ISBN: 0863162037. OCLC Number:

Published for Black Butterfly Children's Books by Writers and Readers Pub.,. New York, NY :. ©1991.

A little girl plays with her doll.

I make music /
ISBN: 0863162053. OCLC Number:

Black Butterfly Children's Books :. New York :. ©1991.

Make good music on the piano, the xylophone, the drums, with fingers and toe-tapping.

Daddy and I-- /
ISBN: 0863162061. OCLC Number:

Black Butterfly Children's Books :. New York :. ©1991.

Father and son work and play together.

William and the good old days /
ISBN: 0060210931. OCLC Number:

HarperCollins,. New York, NY :. ©1993.

A little boy remembers his grandmother before she became ill, and during her long recovery he tries to imagine how things will be when she comes home from the hospital. Once again Greenfield displays commendable sensitivity in this story about an African-American boy who must cope with a beloved grandmother's illness. This poignant exploration of a child's feelings of loss, sorrow, and hope features a closely knit African-American family and community, lovingly depicted in paintings. A wonderful sense of neighborhood permeates the pages of this touching book.

Nathaniel talking /
ISBN: 0863162010. OCLC Number:

. .

"Nathaniel B. Free is a spunky, spirited non-year-old poet who raps and rhymes about his world, from what it's like to be nine, to his education, to his family life"--Jacket.

Sweet baby coming /
ISBN: 0694005789. OCLC Number:

HarperFestival,. [New York?] :. ©1994.

Mom and Dad are about to have a new baby and their young daughter has all sorts of questions.

Night on Neighborhood Street /
ISBN: 0140556834. OCLC Number:

. .

A collection of poems exploring the sounds, sights, and emotions enlivening a black neighborhood during the course of one evening.

Kia Tanisha /
ISBN: 0694008478. OCLC Number:

HarperFestival,. [New York] :. ©1997.

Kia Tanisha loves to run, but there's always something or someone in the way.

For the love of the game :
ISBN: 0064435555. OCLC Number:

HarperCollins,. [New York] :. ©1997.

Two children discover the importance of determination and find inspiration in the life of Michael Jordan.

Water, water /
ISBN: 0694012475. OCLC Number:

HarperFestival,. [New York?] :. ©1999.

For toddlers fascinated with faucets, fountains, puddles, and more, here is a joyous exploration of water.

I can draw a weeposaur and other dinosaurs :
ISBN: 0688176348. OCLC Number:

Greenwillow Books,. New York :. ©2001.

Poems depict a young girl drawing the imaginary dinosaurs she dreams up, like the sleeposaurus.

Easter parade /
ISBN: 0590536079. OCLC Number:

Scholastic,. New York :. [2001], ©1998.

Although the young cousins live many miles apart, Leanna in Chicago and Elizabeth in Washington, D.C., both prepare for an Easter parade against the backdrop of the Second World War.

How they got over :
ISBN: 0060289910. OCLC Number:

HarperCollins,. New York :. ©2003.

Profiles African American men and women who have had a strong connection with the sea, from slaves whose owners sent them to work on ships to today's fishermen, naval officers, and marine biologists.

Honey, I love /
ISBN: 0060091231. OCLC Number:

. .

A young girl expresses what she loves about life.

In the land of words :
ISBN: 0060289937. OCLC Number:

HarperCollins,. New York :. ©2004.

The words can come from a memory, or a dream, or something I see or hear or wonder about or imagine. Maybe there's a place where words live, where our minds and hearts can go and find them when we want to write or read. I like to imagine that there is such a place. I call it "The Land of Words." In this collection of twenty-one poems, National Council of Teachers of English Excellence in Poetry for Children Award winner Eloise Greenfield journeys to a place where words, creativity, and imagination abound. Featuring the poems "In the Land of Words," "Books," and "Poem," as well as favorites such as "Nathaniel's Rap" and "Way Down in the Music," this tribute to the written word invites readers to look within themselves and discover what inspires them.

Me & Neesie /
ISBN: 0060007028. OCLC Number:

HarperCollins/Amistad,. New York :. c2005.

Janell's best friend is her invisible playmate Neesie, but things begin to change when Janell starts school.

On my horse /
ISBN: 0694005835. OCLC Number:

HarperFestival,. [New York] :. ©1995.

A boy riding slowly on a horse, sitting behind the horse's owner, imagines that he is riding swiftly by himself.

The friendly four /
ISBN: 0060007591. OCLC Number:

HarperCollins/Amistad,. New York :. ©2006.

Through individual poems and poems for multiple voices, four young people explore the bonds of friendship, family, and community.

When the horses ride by :
ISBN: 1584302496. OCLC Number:

Lee & Low Books,. New York :. ©2006.

"Collection of poems about children around the world, focusing on the children's perceptions of war and how the turmoil of war affects their lives. An author's note provides additional context"--Provided by publisher.

Brothers & sisters :
ISBN: 0060562846. OCLC Number:

HarperCollins Publishers,. New York :. 2009.

Brothers and sisters. Full, half, step, old and young, close in age and far apart. The bond between all siblings is powerful and special. Celebrate the love of brothers and sisters everywhere with award-winning author Eloise Greenfield in this poignant collection of poems for and about families.

The Great Migration :
ISBN: 0061259217. OCLC Number:

. .

Describes the period of the 20th century when many African Americans left the South to make better lives for themselves in the northern states.

Christmas :
ISBN: 0805029494. OCLC Number:

[publisher not identified]. [Place of publication not identified] :.

A collection of children's books on the subject of Christmas.

Red dog, blue fly :
ISBN: 0140543376. OCLC Number:

. .

All the play by play excitement of a season on the football field is captured in this collection of football poems.

Waiting for Christmas /
ISBN: 0590527002. OCLC Number:

Scholastic Hardcover,. New York :. ©1996.

Highlights various activities done in anticipation of Christmas.

Singing down the rain /
ISBN: 0060276029. OCLC Number:

HarperCollinsPublishers,. New York :. ©1997.

In the midst of a severe drought, a mysterious woman drives into town claiming she specializes in rainsongs. Suggested level: primary, intermediate.

Lemonade sun :
ISBN: 1563979446. OCLC Number:

Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press,. Honesdale, Pa. :. 2001, ©1998.

Collection of poems celebrating summer sights and sounds.

Lift ev'ry voice and sing /
ISBN: 0439351065. OCLC Number:

Scholastic,. New York :. ©1995.

An illustrated version of the song that has come to be considered the African American national anthem.

My America /
ISBN: 0060791047. OCLC Number:

HarperCollins,. New York :. ©2007.

An illustrated children's poem which celelbrates the diversity of America.

The thumbtack dancer /
ISBN: 099777200X. OCLC Number:

. .

Gus is a most promising, most energetic and most talented young dancer who figures out how to make enough money to upgrade his tip-a-tap thumbtack sneakers to a new pair of real tap shoes that could slap-a-dee-dap, slap-a-dee-dap on a real dance floor. He uses his public street dancing and thumbtack shoes to tap his way down the sidewalk and right up to the big red door of the dance studio.


Gilchrist has won numerous awards and commissions throughout her career, including

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)

Contact Catherine Balkin at Harpercollins Children's Books (212)


School programs include

  • WRITE YOUR STORY In your own family lies a mystery, biography, even a fantasy.
  • PAINT WITH WORDS See like an artist and paint a poem.
  • PICTURES THAT LIVE IN WORDS How to illustrate your story.
  • WRITING THE PICTURE BOOK How the words and the pictures work together.
  • THE WORDLESS BOOK You don't need words to write a picture book.
  • STICKS AND STONES Words can hurt, pictures can too in a book for young children. Writing painless books.
  • DISCOVER A DINOSAUR Come create a dinosaur. Bring him to life in a poem and a picture, Name your dinosaur like Weeposaur (he sleeps all day!)

  • HOW MY DREAM CAME TRUE How children fly when their wings aren't tied. I knew I would be an artist when I was four years old. (motivational for all who dream)

  • WRITE A STORY / ILLUSTRATE IT TOO! a hands on workshop
  • JUST FOR ARTISTS a workshop for the gifted artist (fine artists only)

  • FOR WRITERS ONLY A workshop for gifted writers
  • FOR ILLUSTRATORS ONLY For the gifted artist who wants to illustrate Gilchrist is available for multiple days as well as one-day visits. One day visits are $1500.00 plus expenses. Multiple days negotiable. Three presentations daily plus autographing. Workshops need more time. Night returns on the same day $300.00. Ms. Gilchrist is paid upon arrival.