Pam Muñoz Ryan was born in Bakersfield, California, in 1951. With half of her family from Mexico and the other half from Oklahoma, Muñoz Ryan jokes that she grew up eating enchiladas one weekend and fried chicken the next. She was the oldest of 23 grandchildren on her mother’s side.
Pam Muñoz Ryan studied child development at San Diego State University before working as a bilingual Head Start teacher, full-time mom, and early childhood program administrator. After earning a graduate degree in education, Muñoz Ryan began her new career as a writer. At first, she wrote books about child development for adults. Soon though, she started writing books for children. After publishing a number of picture books, Muñoz Ryan discovered that she was a talented novelist as well. Esperanza Rising, perhaps her most well known novel, won the Pura Belpre Medal in 2000.
Today Pam Muñoz Ryan writes full time and lives with her husband just north of San Diego.