Nikki was born in Harlem in 1950. At the age of 13, she gave her first
poetry reading, at the Countee Cullen Library, a block away from where she was born. She has won numerous awards, including the 2003 Coretta Scott King Award, given each year by the American Library Association to an African-American author and illustrator “for outstanding inspirational and educational contributions.” In 2006, she won the National Council of Teachers of English Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children.