Kao Kalia Yang

Kao Kalia Yang is a Hmong American writer, teacher and public speaker. Born in the refugee camps of Thailand to a family that escaped the genocide of the Secret War in Laos, she came to America at the age six. Yang holds degrees from Carleton College and Columbia University. Her work includes creative nonfiction, poetry, and children’s books such as A Map into the World, The Shared Room, and From the Tops of the Trees. Her work has won numerous awards and recognition including multiple Minnesota Book Awards, a Charlotte Zolotow Honor, an ALA Notable Children’s Book Award, the 2023 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, Dayton’s Literary Peace Prize, and a PEN USA Award in Nonfiction.


What was your favorite book when you were a child?

The Little Prince

What’s your favorite line from a book?

“All grown-ups were once children . . . but only few of them remember it.”—Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Who are your top three favorite authors or illustrators?

Louise Erdrich, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Toni Morrison

Why did you want to become an author or illustrator?

I came from a people that had never had the opportunity to write their stories down.

Do you have any advice for future authors or illustrators?

Yes! A writer becomes because she keeps on writing, period.