Naidoo was born on May 21, 1943, to parents living in Johannesburg, South Africa. Apartheid laws then favored white people over black people, and after years of accepting this as normal, Naidoo began questioning these laws. She worked with the resistance movement against racism and was arrested at age 21. After moving to England, marrying a South African exile, and raising their children, Naidoo began writing about children living with racism, injustice, and inequalities to make people aware of the harsh realities then created in their lives. Her first book Journey to Jo' Burg was banned in South Africa until after apartheid ended, and another book The Other Side of Truth won the Carnegie Medal. Naidoo continues to write about a part of the world many readers may never see.