American author, born in Qing Jiang, Jiangsu, China in 1932.
Paterson grew up in China and trained as a missionary in Japan before beginning her writing career in America with a number of religious textbooks. Paterson's work has included picture books and books for the very young, often based around fairytales and myths, yet it is as a writer of novels for young readers that she is best known. Often set in historical contexts in Japan, China or the US, yet frequently too against a contemporary American backdrop, these novels deal with important and sometimes difficult issues such as broken families and children at risk. Nonetheless, hope and courage also feature strongly in her works: her main characters are often vulnerable, slightly odd children, a projection of certain aspects of her own childhood.
Paterson's works have been translated into various languages, including Dutch, French, Finnish, German, Hungarian, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Swedish. She has been the recipient of a number of awards, both in her native USA and internationally. These include the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 1998 in recognition of her lifetime contributions to children's literature, the 1986 Grand Prix des Jeunes Lecteurs for Bridge to Terabithia, and the 1977 National Book Award for Children's Literature for The Master Puppeteer.
In 2010 Katherine Paterson was named National Ambassador for Young People's Literature.