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"I call myself a word keeper, or a keeper of words. I enjoy words and looking at them on all sides..."

–Virginia Hamilton


Tonya Abari is an editor, writer, and consultant. A former high school English teacher, Abari facilitated NEH-funded summer workshops on prolific writers of color, such as Toni Morrison, Richard Wright, and Margaret Walker. In partnership with the University of Kansas English Department, the Language Matters workshops were orchestrated to provide secondary teachers with tools and resources to provide inclusive instruction of African American literature within ELA and social studies curriculum. After leaving the traditional classroom setting, Tonya became a traveling set teacher, administering instruction to child entertainers while on television and film productions. She’s taught students on the set of HBO’s The Wire, The Lion King, The Color Purple, Next to Normal, and The Radio City Music Spectacular.

Tonya’s work as an educator set the foundation and provided a seamless transition to editing, writing professionally, and consulting in educational publishing, the federal government, and the non-profit sector. While Abari mostly edits and writes for children and teens, she also enjoys writing profile articles and is passionate about providing commentary on fundamental philosophical issues as well as topics such as freelancing, the intersectionality of parenthood and career, culture identity and diversity, and education. Notable editorial projects include: research and copyediting for the U.S. Department of Labor’s grant-funded Trade and Development (TDA) reports on child labor, forced labor, and human trafficking; Cambridge University Press’ Education Reform Team UAE curriculum redevelopment; and the U.S. Department of Education’s Digest of Education Statistics. Currently, Abari is accepting freelance editorial assignments in addition to working on several writing projects. Tonya is an active member of the local PorchTN Writing Collective, Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA), Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), recent Madcap Writing Cross-Culturally retreat attendee,  12x12 picture-book writing participant, and has volunteered as an NCTE Norman Mailer Creative Nonfiction and Baldwin Prize judge.

A graduate of the University of Maryland at College Park, Abari grew up in Baltimore, MD and currently resides in Nashville, TN. In addition to her professional endeavors, Abari enjoys reading, traveling, music, walking area greenway trails, aromatherapy, spending time with her husband, and homeschooling an inquisitive preschooler.