May 30, 2024

rachel russell author bio

About the Author:

Rachel Renée Russell

Rachel Renée Russell is an award-winning author of 20 consecutive New York Times best-selling books for children. Best known for her wildly popular Dork Diaries series and spin-off The Misadventures of Max Crumbly series, Russell is the best-selling Black author in the world, surpassing such acclaimed writers as Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Maya Angelou, and Alex Haley12. Russell’s books, which are filled with lighthearted humor, also contain an important message to young readers:

“Be your own person. Value yourself.”

And that empowering message has resonated. More than 55 million copies of Russell’s 17-book Dork Diaries series are in print today3. The books have been translated into 52 languages in 57 countries4, and Dork Diaries books have spent 331 weeks on the New York Times Best Sellers list for Children’s & Young Adult Series5. Russell has also been listed as #5 on the Forbes List for Top Earning Children’s Authors6.

Since her 2009 launch of the Dork Diaries — which chronicles the life and misadventures of middle school students Nikki Maxwell and her best friends Chloe and Zoey — Russell has been showered with numerous awards. 

In 2015, Russell received the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work-Children’s for book No. 4 in her series, Tales from a Not-So-Happily Ever After7.

Three of Russell’s books have received Children’s Choice Book Awards, given by the Children’s Book Council and International Reading Association. Children’s Choice Book Award winners are read and voted on annually on by 12,500 children and teens across the U.S.8 The awards, in the Fifth and Sixth Grade Book of the Year category, went to Dork Diaries books in 2011 (Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life)9 and 2013 (Tales From A Not-So-Graceful Ice Princess)10 and to a The Misadventures of Max Crumbly book (Locker Hero)11 in 2017.

Readers have also demonstrated their affection for Russell’s books. In 2010, Dork Diaries was among the nominees for the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Award for Favorite Book.12 And in 2014, Russell received the Milner Award, an Atlanta-area program based on student votes.13

In children’s literature, where male characters still far outnumber female ones,14 Nikki Maxwell’s unique personality, dorky moments, and triumphs have resonated deeply with readers. That said, affection for Nikki didn’t stop male readers from requesting a spinoff series featuring a boy as the protagonist. Russell responded with the best-selling series,151617  The Misadventures of Max Crumbly, launched in 2016. 

In addition to her relatable stories, Russell is known for creating a sense of community for her readers, who have said they feel like her characters are their friends.18

Though Russell built a successful career as an attorney, writing has been a passion since her childhood in in St. Joseph, Michigan (she now lives in Northern Virginia). She wrote her first book in the sixth grade as a birthday gift for her younger twin brothers. 

Russell’s Dork Diaries series was inspired in part by her own childhood years along with the middle school experiences of her daughters, Erin Russell and Nikki Russell, who illustrates the Dork Diaries series and is the namesake of protagonist Nikki Maxwell. 

Russell wants tweens and teens to know that being a bit different and unique is something to embrace. That has been her ongoing message as a writer, as a speaker, and during interviews with daughter, Nikki, on such programs as Good Morning America,19 CBS Mornings20, and Great Day Washington.21 One of Russell’s greatest rewards as a writer has been to hear from readers, including some who are now adults, about how much her books have inspired and encouraged them through tough times in their lives.22

In 2013, when The New York Times asked Russell if she was running out of dorky incidents to share with her readers, her response was an emphatic “no!”23 That answer remains the same today, she says, and Russell is more committed than ever to inspiring and empowering children, especially girls.

  1. “Meet the Women behind the International Sensation, ‘the Dork Diaries.’” 2023. October 6, 2023. ↩
  2. —. “List of Black New York Times Best Selling Authors.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 14 Dec. 2019, Accessed 20 Dec. 2019. ↩
  3. Lodge |, Sally. 2020. “The Votes Are In: ‘Dork Diaries’ Fans Select New Book’s Cover.” April 21, 2020. ↩
  4. “Rachel Renée Russell.” n.d. Simon & Schuster. Accessed May 22, 2024. ↩
  5. The New York Times. 2024. “Children’s & Young Adult Series Books – Best Sellers – Books – Jan. 7, 2024 – the New York Times,” July 1, 2024. ↩
  6. Robehmed, Natalie. 2016. “The Top-Earning Children’s Authors 2016 – 2016-07-06 – the Top-Earning Children’s Authors 2016.” Forbes. July 6, 2016. ↩
  7. Wikipedia Contributors. 2023. “NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work – Children.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. March 23, 2023. ↩
  8. “Choices Reading Lists.” n.d. ↩
  9. “The Children’s Book Choice Awards: 2010 Winners and Finalists.” Accessed May 22, 2024. ↩
  10. “The Children’s Book Choice Awards: 2013 Winners and Finalists.” n.d. Accessed May 22, 2024. ↩
  11. “The Children’s Book Choice Awards: 2017 Winners and Finalists.” Accessed May 22, 2024. ↩
  12. ———. 2024. “Kids’ Choice Award for Favorite Book.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. April 11, 2024. ↩
  13. “Previous Recipients – the Milner Award – Student Voted.” n.d. The Milner Awards. Accessed May 22, 2024. ↩
  14. Casey, Kennedy, Kylee Novick, and Stella F. Lourenco. 2021. “Sixty Years of Gender Representation in Children’s Books: Conditions Associated with Overrepresentation of Male versus Female Protagonists.” Edited by Jennifer Steele. PLOS ONE 16 (12): e0260566. ↩
  15. “Children’s Middle Grade Hardcover Books – Best Sellers – Books – July 9, 2017 – the New York Times.” The New York Times, 9 July 2017, Accessed 28 May 2024. ↩
  16. “Children’s Middle Grade Hardcover Books – Best Sellers – Books – Oct. 8, 2017 – the New York Times.” The New York Times, 8 Oct. 2017, Accessed 28 May 2024. ↩
  17. “Children’s & Young Adult Series Books – Best Sellers – Books – June 23, 2019 – the New York Times.” The New York Times, 23 June 2019, Accessed 28 May 2024. ↩
  18. Lodge |, Sally. 2020. “The Votes Are In: ‘Dork Diaries’ Fans Select New Book’s Cover.” April 21, 2020. ↩
  19. America, Good Morning. 2023. “New ‘Dork Diaries’ Promotes Anti-Bullying.” Good Morning America. October 19, 2023. ↩
  20. “Watch CBS Mornings: ‘Dork Diaries’ Authors on New Book – Full Show on CBS.” 2023. September 25, 2023. ↩
  21. “Meet the Women behind the International Sensation, ‘the Dork Diaries.’” 2023. October 6, 2023. ↩
  22. Comment, Amanda MacGregor Leave a. “An Interview with Rachel Renée Russell, the Author of Dork Diaries 15: Tales from a Not-So-Posh Paris Adventure.” Teen Librarian Toolbox, 26 Sept. 2023, ↩
  23. Kaufman, Leslie. 2013. “The Grown-up behind a Tween Phenomenon.” The New York Times, March 25, 2013, sec. Books. ↩