Bio: Johnell DeWitt

Dewitt 139As soon as I was old enough to know books weren’t born in a library, I wanted to write my own.

I grew up on a small farm in a town with no stoplights, but I knew the world was a big place because of the books my mom read to me.

We eventually traded life on the farm for life in a desert town, much bigger and more varied. It was a shock to my young system and I hated it … at first.

Books were my friends those first few days and my escape.

After time, I came to love my home and the educational opportunities that came with a bigger city. I eventually went off to college, with a stint in Finland in between, and graduated with a degree in public relations.

I landed my first job in high-tech doing international public relations. Moved from there to work at a private college in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, and eventually on to D.C., where I worked in the community relations department of an international organization.

As most good stories go, I met a man, fell in love and decided to marry him. He was a foreign service officer on his way overseas, so I joined him.

I’d already traveled quite a bit before getting married, so my family’s adventures abroad just added to the stories brewing in my head. I had to find a place to put them. I decided to dust off the dream of childhood and write my own stories.

I’ve since joined The Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), Julie Hedlund’s 12×12, and completed Joyce Sweeney’s Picture Book Essentials Class, Mira Reisberg’s Picture Book Academy, Emma Walton Hamilton’s Just Write Middle Grade, Renee LaTulippe’s Lyrical Language Lab and James Patterson’s Master Class.

A few of my favorite children’s book creators are:

  • Helen Lester
  • Mo Willems
  • Kelly DiPucchio
  • Don and Aubrey Wood
  • Antoinette Portis
  • Chris Riddell
  • Peter Brown
  • Graeme Base
  • Godeleine de Rosamel
  • Sandra Boynton
  • Vivian French
  • Chris Van Allsburg
  • Leslie Patricelli
  • Lane Smith
  • Jon Scieszka
  • Gail Carson Levine
  • Roald Dahl
  • Llyod Alexander
  • Kate DiCamillo
  • C.S. Lewis
  • Madeline L’Engle
  • Antoinette Portis
  • Brandon Mull
  • The Fan Brothers
  • Angie Sage
  • JK of course
  • Bill Watterson—okay, technically he’s not a kid’s writer, but I loved him as a kid.
  • And too many to go on …

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”

-Harriet Tubman