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Traci
Award Winning Children’s Author
Bestselling Indigenous Writer
Travels from: Tulsa, Oklahoma

“Traci Sorell is a treasure! Many students, many of which are Cherokee citizens, were so excited to explore the Cherokee heritage through the pages of her book. They loved hearing and reading We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga, learning the Cherokee language, and getting a glimpse into the Cherokee culture. Wado, Traci! You are welcome in our library any time!!”- Glenn C. Moore Elementary School

Best-selling author Traci Sorell writes inclusive, award-winning historical and contemporary fiction and nonfiction in a variety of formats for young people. She is a two-time Sibert Medal and Orbis Pictus honoree and award-winning audiobook narrator and producer. Her first five books have received awards from the American Indian Library Association. Other accolades include Charlotte Huck Honor Award, Septima Clark Women in Literature Honor Award, Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor, International Literacy Association’s Social Justice Literature Award Winner, Reading The West’s Picture Book Winner, and many Best-of and Notables lists.

In 2024, she shares two fiction picture books: Being Home, a fiction picture book biography illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Michaela Goode, and CLACK, Clack, Clack! Smack! A Cherokee Stickball Story, illustrated by Joseph Erb.

A former federal Indigenous law attorney and policy advocate, Traci is a Cherokee Nation citizen and first-generation college graduate. She lives within her tribe’s reservation in northeastern Oklahoma.

Traci's Featured Titles

Mascot

Charlesbridge |
Middle Grade

What if a school’s mascot is seen as racist, but not by everyone? In this compelling middle-grade novel in verse, two best-selling BIPOC authors tackle this hot-button issue.

In Rye, Virginia, just outside Washington, DC, people work hard, kids go to school, and football is big on Friday nights. An eighth-grade English teacher creates an assignment for her class to debate whether Rye’s mascot should stay or change. Now six middle-schoolers–-all with different backgrounds and beliefs–-get involved in the contentious issue that already has the suburb turned upside down with everyone choosing sides and arguments getting ugly.

Told from several perspectives, readers see how each student comes to new understandings about identity, tradition, and what it means to stand up for real change.

Contenders: Two Native Baseball Players, One World Series

Kokila |
Children’s/Middle Grade

The true story of John Meyers and Charles Bender, who in 1911 became the first two Native pro baseball players to face off in a World Series. This picture book teaches important lessons about resilience, doing what you love in the face of injustice, and the fight for Native American representation in sports.

Charles Bender grew up on the White Earth Reservation in Northwestern Minnesota. John Meyers was raised on the Cahuilla reservation in Southern California. Despite their mutual respect for each other’s talents and their shared dedication to Native representation in baseball, the media was determined to pit them against each other.

However, they never gave up on their dreams of being pro baseball players and didn’t let the supposed rivalry created by the media or the racism they faced within the stadium stop them. They continued to break barriers and went on to play a combined total of nine championships.

With text by Traci Sorell and illustrations by Arigon Starr that brings these two players to life, the stories of John Meyers and Charles Bender remain an inspiration for achieving and maintaining one’s dreams in the face of prejudice.

She Persisted: Wilma Mankiller

Philomel Books |
Children’s/Middle Grade

Inspired by the #1 New York Times bestseller She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton and Alexandra Boiger, a chapter book series about women who spoke up and rose up against the odds–including Wilma Mankiller!

The descendant of Cherokee ancestors who had been forced to walk the Trail of Tears, Wilma Mankiller experienced her own forced removal from the land she grew up on as a child. As she got older and learned more about the injustices her people had faced, she dedicated her life to instilling pride in Native heritage and reclaiming Native rights. She went on to become the first woman Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.

In this chapter book biography by award-winning author Traci Sorell, readers learn about the amazing life of Wilma Mankiller–and how she persisted.

Complete with an introduction from Chelsea Clinton, black-and-white illustrations throughout, and a list of ways that readers can follow in Wilma Mankiller’s footsteps and make a difference! A perfect choice for kids who love learning and teachers who want to bring inspiring women into their curriculum.

And don’t miss out on the rest of the books in the She Persisted series, featuring so many more women who persisted!

Powwow Day

Charlesbridge |
Children’s

In this uplifting, contemporary Native American story, River is recovering from illness and can’t dance at the powwow this year. Will she ever dance again?

River wants so badly to dance at powwow day as she does every year. In this uplifting and contemporary picture book perfect for beginning readers, follow River’s journey from feeling isolated after an illness to learning the healing power of community.

Additional information explains the history and functions of powwows, which are commonplace across the United States and Canada and are open to both Native Americans and non-Native visitors. Author Traci Sorell is a member of the Cherokee Nation, and illustrator Madelyn Goodnight is a member of the Chickasaw Nation.

One Land, Many Nations: Volume 1

Reycraft Books |
Children’s

A Two books in one/Flip Book 1. Cherokee Nation by Traci Sorell and 2. Pueblo of Laguna by Lee Francis IV

The continental United States is one land, but within its borders are many nations sovereign Native American nations whose citizens have dual citizenship. In Volume 1 of this series, Native Americans Traci Sorell (Cherokee) and Lee Francis IV (Pueblo of Laguna) take readers on a contemporary tour of their nation. Readers learn the history of their people, famous citizens, traditional stories, as well as details about tribal life today including their system of government, education, and commerce.

We Are Still Here!: Native American Truths Everyone Should Know

Charlesbridge |
Children’s/Middle Grade

Twelve Native American kids present historical and contemporary laws, policies, struggles, and victories in Native life, each with a powerful refrain: We are still here!

Too often, Native American history is treated as a finished chapter instead of relevant and ongoing. This companion book to the award-winning We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga offers readers everything they never learned in school about Native American people’s past, present, and future. Precise, lyrical writing presents topics including: forced assimilation (such as boarding schools), land allotment and Native tribal reorganization, termination (the US government not recognizing tribes as nations), Native urban relocation (from reservations), self-determination (tribal self-empowerment), Native civil rights, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), religious freedom, economic development (including casino development), Native language revival efforts, cultural persistence, and nationhood.

Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer

Millbrook Press |
Children’s/Middle Grade

Discover the story of how a math-loving girl blazed a trail for herself and others in this American Indian Library Association Youth Literature Award Honor Picture Book, Classified: Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, a biography for children ages 7 – 11

 

Mary Golda Ross designed classified airplanes and spacecraft as Lockheed Aircraft Corporation’s first female engineer. Find out how her passion for math and the Cherokee values she was raised with shaped her life and work.

Cherokee author Traci Sorell and Métis illustrator Natasha Donovan trace Ross’s journey from being the only girl in a high school math class to becoming a teacher to pursuing an engineering degree, joining the top-secret Skunk Works division of Lockheed, and being a mentor for Native Americans and young women interested in engineering. In addition, the narrative highlights Cherokee values including education, working cooperatively, remaining humble, and helping ensure equal opportunity and education for all.

At the Mountain’s Base

Kokila |
Children’s

A family, separated by duty and distance, waits for a loved one to return home in this lyrical picture book celebrating the bonds of a Cherokee family and the bravery of history-making women pilots.

At the mountain’s base sits a cabin under an old hickory tree. And in that cabin lives a family — loving, weaving, cooking, and singing. The strength in their song sustains them through trials on the ground and in the sky, as they wait for their loved one, a pilot, to return from war.

With an author’s note that pays homage to the true history of Native American U.S. service members like WWII pilot Ola Mildred “Millie” Rexroat, this is a story that reveals the roots that ground us, the dreams that help us soar, and the people and traditions that hold us up.

Indian No More

Tu Books |
Children’s/Middle Grade

Regina Petit’s family has always been Umpqua, and living on the Grand Ronde reservation is all ten-year-old Regina has ever known. Her biggest worry is that Sasquatch may actually exist out in the forest. But when the federal government signs a bill into law that says Regina’s tribe no longer exists, Regina becomes “Indian no more” overnight–even though she was given a number by the Bureau of Indian Affairs that counted her as Indian, even though she lives with her tribe and practices tribal customs, and even though her ancestors were Indian for countless generations.

With no good jobs available in Oregon, Regina’s father signs the family up for the Indian Relocation program and moves them to Los Angeles. Regina finds a whole new world in her neighborhood on 58th Place. She’s never met kids of other races, and they’ve never met a real Indian. For the first time in her life, Regina comes face to face with the viciousness of racism, personally and toward her new friends.

Meanwhile, her father believes that if he works hard, their family will be treated just like white Americans. But it’s not that easy. It’s 1957 during the Civil Rights Era. The family struggles without their tribal community and land. At least Regina has her grandmother, Chich, and her stories. At least they are all together.

In this moving middle-grade novel drawing upon Umpqua author Charlene Willing McManis’s own tribal history, Regina must find out: Who is Regina Petit? Is she Indian? Is she American? And will she and her family ever be okay?

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga

Charlesbridge |
Children’s/Middle Grade

The Cherokee community is grateful for blessings and challenges that each season brings. This is modern Native American life as told by an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation.

The word otsaliheliga (oh-jah-LEE-hay-lee-gah) is used by members of the Cherokee Nation to express gratitude. Beginning in the fall with the new year and ending in summer, follow a full Cherokee year of celebrations and experiences. Written by a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, this look at one group of Native Americans is appended with a glossary and the complete Cherokee syllabary, originally created by Sequoyah.

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Understanding Contemporary Social Justice Issues and Craft Choices in Writing About Them

MASCOT, CONTENDERS, and WE ARE STILL HERE!

Traci’s recent fiction and nonfiction works link historical and contemporary social justice issues. She’ll share her process in determining how she decides the target audience, format and craft choices she makes to raise awareness and hook readers into those stories.

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Crafting Compelling Nonfiction

The popularity of nonfiction in children’s literature continues to grow as more books enter the market showcasing innovative text structures, captivating art, and engaging text. Traci will share the tools she uses to research and craft compelling nonfiction books.

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Contemporary Native American Representations in Children's Literature

Native people show up more often in children’s literature than they do in classroom texts and mainstream pop culture. Traci will highlight her work and those of others that provide all students of all ages with much needed books that reflect the contemporary lives of Native Nations and their citizens in the United States.

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An Author's Life: Reading, Writing, Revising & Teaching

What does an author do? Traci will reveal her path to becoming a published author, including how she draws inspiration from those early visits to her school and local libraries to craft stories as well as how becoming a first generation college graduate shapes the work she does now.

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Professional Development Workshops

  • Evaluating Self and Building Collections with Accurate Native Focused Content
  • Evaluating Self and Integrating Native Focused Content into Teaching Practices
  • Not Culture Clubs: Understanding the Sovereignty of Native Nations in the US

Traci Sorell provides professional development programs for educators and librarians, drawing from her prior experiences in higher education, law, policy, and nonprofit management. She seeks to help both groups examine themselves and then evaluate whether their library collections or teaching practices ensure the availability of accurate Native representation for those they serve. She also presents on the sovereignty of Native Nations with US borders and their relationship with federal and state governments, explaining why this foundational knowledge is critical for all those living in this country.

Traci earned her J.D. at the University of Wisconsin and her M.A. in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona. She received her B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley and is a first-generation college graduate. Prior to writing for children, she directed a national nonprofit advocating for and serving Indigenous elders and worked in Washington, DC on national health care issues for Native Nations and their citizens. She also worked as an attorney writing tribal codes and training tribal court personnel. She previously taught at the University of North Dakota and the University of New Mexico.

Traci’s name pronunciation link

Spotlight on Traci Sorell and her books in Ohio State University’s Mirrors and Doors Spring 2022 Newsletter

Traci’s Press Kit

Traci’s Bluesky Profile Link

Honors, Awards & Recognition

Best-selling author of WE ARE GRATEFUL OTSALIHELIGA, her debut picture book
Two time Sibert Medal and Orbis Pictus Award Honoree
American Indian Youth Literature Award – Middle Grade Winner
American Indian Youth Literature Award – Picture Book Honor for first four picture books
Charlotte Huck Honor Award
Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Award
Septima Clark Women in Literature Award – Honor Book
International Literacy Association’s Social Justice Literature Award – Nonfiction Winner
Reading the West Award – Picture Book Winner
Multiple titles receiving starred reviews from Kirkus, School Library Journal, Booklist, The Horn Book, and Shelf Awareness
Multiple titles selected for best books of the year by NPR, Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal, and Booklist’s Editor’s Choice
Multiple titles selected for ALA Notable Children’s List, NCSS Notable Trade Books and ILA CL/R SIG’s Notable Books List
Mathical Book Prize – Honor Book
NSTA Best Stem Books for K-12
Read Across America, National Education Association, Two time Elementary Book selection for national calendar

Media Kit

By clicking the link below you will be directed to a Google Docs Folder
where you can download author photos and cover images.

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