American's children writer, as well as teacher and editor, known for her Appalachian fiction. Caudill graduated from Wesleyan College and, in 1922, received her master's degree from Vanderbilt University. She taught English in high school and college, and worked briefly as an editor. She moved to Urbana, Illinois, when she married James Ayars in 1931.

Caudill's book, Tree of Freedom, was a Newbery Honor Book in 1950. A Pocketful of Cricket was a Caldecott Honor Book.

The schoolchildren of her adopted state of Illinois vote each year on their favorite book. The winning book is given the Rebecca Caudill Young Reader's Book Award (RCYRBA) named in honor of Caudill and her contributions to Appalachian literature.