Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Remembering Russell Freedman


October 11, 1929–March 16, 2018


The SCBWI is saddened to report the passing of Russell Freedman, one of America’s most honored writers of nonfiction books for young readers. He suffered a stroke earlier this month, and is survived by his partner of 32 years, Evan Chan.

Mr. Freedman,  a longtime friend of the SCBWI,  authored more than 60 books and was the recipient of numerous awards, including the Newbery Medal for Lincoln: A Photobiography (Clarion Books).

The SCBWI awarded him seven Golden Kites for nonfiction including, in 1992, The Wright Brothers (Holiday House); in 1993, Eleanor Roosevelt (Clarion); in 1995, Kids at Work: Lewis Hine and The Crusade Against Child Labor (Clarion); in 1999, Martha Graham: A Dancer’s Life (Clarion); in 2006, Children of the Great Depression (Clarion); in 2007, The Adventures of Marco Polo (Arthur A. Levine Books); and in 2016, We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolf Hitler (Clarion).

While setting a high standard for his peers in the field he educated and entertained generations of young readers.

His editor at Clarion, Dinah Stevenson, in a comment on his passing perhaps summed him up best.  “Russell was the consummate professional. Every brilliant manuscript he delivered was in perfect order, complete with back matter and images. Some 30 years ago, I was timid about offering editorial suggestions to such a luminary, but he welcomed my input and trusted my judgment. He dedicated his last Clarion title to me, an honor I cherish. He was a dear friend and I will miss him.”

We will miss him as well.