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Renée Watson is a #1 New York Times Bestselling author. Her books have sold over one million copies.  Her young adult novel, Piecing Me Together, received a Coretta Scott King Award and Newbery Honor. Her children's picture books and novels for teens have received several awards and international recognition. Many of her books are inspired by her experiences growing up as a Black girl in the Pacific Northwest. Her poetry and fiction center around the experiences of Black girls and explore themes of home, identity, body image, and the intersections of race, class, and gender. 


She has given readings and lectures at many renown places including the United Nations, the Library of Congress, and the U.S. Embassy in Japan and New Zealand. One of Renée’s passions is using the arts to help youth cope with trauma and discuss social issues. Her picture book, A Place Where Hurricanes Happen is based on poetry workshops she facilitated with children in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Renée was a writer-in-residence for over twenty years teaching creative writing and theater in public schools and community centers throughout the nation. She founded I, Too Arts Collective, a nonprofit that was housed in the Harlem brownstone where Langston Hughes lived the last twenty years of his life. The organization hosted poetry workshops for youth and literary events for the community from 2016-2019.  Renée is on the Council of Writers for the National Writing Project and is a member of the Academy of American Poets’ Education Advisory Council.


Renée grew up in Portland, Oregon, and splits her time between Portland and New York City.

Special Projects

Renée Watson Cottage

Highlights Foundation has established the Renée Watson Cottage on its campus located at the foothills of the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania. It is open now, and was personally designed by Watson to be a space where children’s writers and illustrators will feel inspired to reflect and create. For more information visit:
The Highlights Foundation

i, too arts collective

We leased the Harlem brownstone where Langston Hughes lived and created the last twenty  years of his life from 2016 - 2019. Founded by writer Renée Watson, our mission was to build upon Hughes' legacy by nurturing voices from underrepresented communities in the creative arts. We did this through commemorating, preserving, and activating the historic site with dynamic literary and cultural arts programming for established and youth writers alike. Though we are no longer in that physical space, we invite you to join us in reflecting on the community of artists, educators and neighbors we had the opportunity to convene and collaborate with. Please visit this digital space frequently, as we will share updates and special announcements around the release of our archive.Through the archive, our aim is to show an interior look into the collective through its movements in community engagement and space making. 

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