Pam Muñoz Ryan is an American author. She is half Mexican with Basque, Italian, and Oklahoman cultural influences. She has written over forty books for young people—picture books, early readers, and middle grade and young adult novels. She the author recipient of the NEA’s Human and Civil Rights Award, the Virginia Hamilton Literary Award, and the Ludington Award for body of work. Her novel, Esperanza Rising, was commissioned as a play by the Minneapolis Children’s Theatre and has been performed in many venues around the U.S. including The Goodman in Chicago, and the Majestic Cutler Theater, in Boston.
Born Pamela Jeanne Banducci in Bakersfield, California, on December 25, 1951, her last name was changed before she attended school to match the name of her parents, Hope Bell and the man she considered her real father, Donald Bell. As Pamela Bell, she attended McKinley Elementary, Longfellow Elementary, Washington Jr. High, Bakersfield High School, and Bakersfield Community College. She then attended San Diego State University where she received a bachelor’s degree. She married James Ryan in 1975. An early childhood teacher, she worked for the Escondido, California, school district for three years before starting her family. After her four children were born, she became the director of an early childhood program and went back to school to get her master’s degree in Post-secondary Education with the intention of teaching Children’s Literature in college. When she finished her graduate program, she became interested in writing, and at the encouragement of her agent, Kendra Marcus, included her family name , Muñoz, to her signature, to reflect her Mexican heritage.
BECOMING NAOMI LEÓN
2001 The Willa Cather Award
WHEN MARIAN SANG, illustrated by Brian Selznick
2003 Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children