With over 96 books to her credit, Jan Spivey Gilchrist's career as a fine artist has spanned a quarter of a century. She has exhibited extensively throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and the Caribbean. Dr. Gilchrist has won numerous awards and commissions throughout her career, including the Coretta Scott King Award for Nathaniel Talking, and a Coretta Scott King Honor Book for Night on Neighborhood Street. This book is also a Reading Rainbow Book. Ms. Gilchrist has also written picture books which she also illustrated, including Obama: The Day the World Danced, the first picture book in the U.S. about the historical election. She also wrote and illustrated Indigo and Moonlight Gold, My America, A Voice as Soft as a Honey Bee's Flutter and Madelia. Indigo and Moonlight Gold is treasured by many for its sensitive and moving text, as well as the striking illustrations, and Madelia is a beautifully illustrated story of an artistic young girl.
Dr. Gilchrist has illustrated many of Eloise Greenfield's books, including several award winners. The Great Migration: Journey to the North was named a 2012 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book, an ALA Notable Children's Book, a Booklist Editors' Choice 2011 selection as well as a 2012 Booklist Top 10 Black History Book, an IRA/CBC Teachers' Choice, a Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies (NCSS/CBC), and on the New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age. The Great Migration was also a 2012 CCBC Choice, among the Chicago Public Library's 2012 Best of the Best Books and Bank Street's 2012 Best Children's Books of the Year and nominated for the Georgia Children's Book Award as well as a NAACP Image Award. In the Land of Words was named a 2005 Notable Children's Book in the Language Arts (Children's Literature Assembly/NCTE). When the Horses Ride By and The Friendly Four were chosen for the CCBC's (Cooperative Children's Book Center's) 2007 Choices. The Friendly Four was included on the 2007 Texas 2x2 Reading List for ages 2 to grades 2.
The Girl Who Buried Her Dreams in a Can dominated Amazon as the #1 Hot New Release in Children's Africa Books as well as in Children's Women Biographies, and it was also a CBC/NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book. Yafi's Family won a Skipping Stone Award, a Mom's Choice Award and was a finalist in the Midwest Book Awards.
Furthermore, her collaboration with Ashley Bryan on the book, My America, featured in C-SPAN's The Road to the White House, has been the inspiration for the Bryan/Gilchrist Collaboration Award, given to the children who can best work together on a collaborative enterprise.
Ms. Gilchrist is also the winner of the Zora Neale Hurston Award, the highest honor given by the National Association of Black Storytellers, Inc. and in 2016, she was honored with a 2016 Women That Soar Award.
We Are Shining, written by Gwendolyn Brooks and illustrated by Ms. Gilchrist, was a Bank Street College of Education's 2018 Best Children's Book of the Year for Ages Five to Nine.
Other works by Ms. Gilchrist have appeared on national television, and her illustrations have been featured or reviewed in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, the L.A. Times, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, Ebony Magazine, and others. She was inducted into the International Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent in October of 2000. She was also inducted into the prestigious Society of Illustrators in 2001.
Jan Spivey Gilchrist has four degrees: a BS in Art Education from Eastern Illinois University, an MA in painting from the University of Northern Iowa, an MFA in writing for children from Vermont College, and a doctoral degree in English from Madison University. She also has a grown son, William, who as a boy was the model she used for William and the Good Old Days by Eloise Greenfield. She also has a daughter, Ronke, and grandchildren.
Dr. Gilchrist and her husband, Dr. Kelvin Gilchrist, live in a suburb of Chicago, Illinois.