Joanna Cole: Biography, Books & Poems

Instructor: Andrew Sedillo

Andrew Sedillo has taught Language Arts, Social Studies, and Technology at a middle school level. He currently holds a Bachelor's of Arts in Education, Master's of Arts Educational Learning Technology, and a Graduate certificate in Online Teaching and Learning.

Joanna Cole is the author of popular 'The Magic School Bus' series and numerous other children's books and literature. Learn more about Joanna Cole and her works, and test your understanding through a quiz.


She has been credited to be one of the most popular children's authors of all time. She has written over 250 books and is famous for writing one of the most popular children's book series. Her name is Joanna Cole, and her passion for writing continues to this day. Learn more about Joanna's life and works through this lesson!

Who is Joanna Cole?

Early Life

Joanna Cole was born on August 11, 1944 in Newark, New Jersey. She knew as early as 5th grade that she was interested in writing and science. Cole has credited a large part of her passion to one of her elementary school teachers. She would later pay homage to this teacher by basing one of her most popular characters -- Ms. Frizzle from 'The Magic School Bus' series -- on her.

Joanna continued her education by attending the University of Massachusetts and Indiana. She would eventually earn a bachelor's degree in psychology from the City College of New York in 1967.


Work Life

Post graduation, Cole decided to take some education courses to become a librarian at a Brooklyn elementary school in 1967. Eventually, she would take jobs working as a letter correspondent for Newsweek, Seesaw book club associate editor at Scholastic, and senior editor for Doubleday Books for Young Readers.

Cole's passion for writing and science was still alive and well during this time. In 1971 she decided to write her first book, 'Cockroaches,' to whom she credits the Wall Street Journal for her writing inspiration. She did some research and discovered there had never been a book written for children about cockroaches. So she thought that she would be the first, and it worked to her benefit.

She continued to have success writing science-related children's literature. Cole would eventually work independently in 1980; this was when she began to write children's books and articles for Parents magazine.

Cole struck gold when she wrote the first 'Magic School Bus' in 1985. The book would go onto to be published the following year and quickly became a book series and cartoon series due to its success.

Cole continues to write both nonfiction and fiction books for children. She writes in a way that will hopefully inspire children to think like a scientist. She does this by writing ideas instead of just facts. She also tries to ask questions in her books that require children to think, and discover the answers as they read. This creates an engaging reading experience for children, so it is no wonder why younger readers are hooked on her books.

Books & Poems

Joanna Cole has written over 250 books, and this has led to her being recognized as one of the most popular children's authors of all time. Some of her work includes the following:

--'Cockroaches' (1971). This was Cole's first book. It is a children's book about the origins of cockroaches. It talks about their characteristics, habits, life cycles, and what contributions they have made to science.

--'New Treasury of Children's Poetry' (1984) is an anthology of poems for younger children. Cole personally selected each of the poems, and provides an introduction for why they were chosen.

--'The Magic School Bus Series' (1985-Present) follows science teacher Ms. Frizzle and her class through a variety of field trips. Each book is highly engaging and teaches the reader something new. To this day the series has sold over 87 million copies of books in print!

Cole has also been praised by readers and critics for her stories that help children deal with early life issues. Some of these include the following:

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