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?

I loved The Little House on the Prairie books.

What’s your favorite line from a book?

“Be careful what you say. It comes true.” –The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston

Who are your top three favorite authors or illustrators?

Louise Erdrich, Jimei Lin, Grace Lin

Why did you want to become an author or illustrator?

I became an author so that I could hold safe on paper the stories I didn’t trust my heart to hold still.

Do you have any advice for future authors or illustrators?

Be kind to people and their stories.