Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Rebecca Caudill  

Pen Name: None


Born: February 2, 1899 in Poor Fork (now known as Cumberland), Kentucky (Harland County)


Illinois Connection

Caudill lived in Urbana, Illinois for nearly 50 years. She was a very active in the Champaign-Urbana community. She was the co-founder of the Champaign-Urbana Peace Council and served on the board of trustees for Urbana Free Library.

Biographical and Professional Information

Caudill was born in Kentucky in 1899. Her parents, who were both teachers, instilled in Rebecca and her 10 brothers and sister a love for the written word. The Appalachian region where she grew up provided more than scenery for Rebecca. From the independent and hard-working people who lived there, she learned the importance of simplicity and something she called "heart knowledge," an understanding of pepole that comes through living. After working her way through college, Rebecca traveled worldwide, including Canada, Russia, and Brazil, before she married James Ayars who also wrote for children. They settled in Urbana, Illinois, where Rebecca carefully researched and wrote most of her books. Her books are known for their authentic depictions of settings and characters, and for evoking the lives of pioneers during the eighteenth-and nineteenth-century in America. Many of them won awards, and now the Young Readers' Choice Award in Illinois is named for her. Caudill was also as an educator and editor.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library


-- In, 1950, her book ''Tree of Freedom'', was a runner-up for the Newbery Medal. ''A Pocket Full of Crickets'', illustrated by Evaline Ness was named a Caldecott Medal Honor Book. Awarded ''Illinois Author of the Year'' by the Illinois Association of Teachers of English in 1972.