Simon was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of comedian Ernie Simon and actress Patricia Lyons, and brother to a sister who died at a young age. He grew up in major cities across the United States and Canada, including Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Montreal, Cleveland, and Washington, D.C. After his father died, his mother married Ralph G. Newman, a former baseball player and American Civil War scholar and author who ran the Abraham Lincoln Bookshop in Chicago.
Simon's first book, Home and Away: Memoir of a Fan, was published in the spring of 2000, and his second, Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball, was published in 2002. Simon has written a book — Baby, We Were Meant for Each Other: In Praise of Adoption — about his family's experiences. He is also the author of two novels: Pretty Birds (2005) and Windy City: A Novel of Politics (2008).
Simon has hosted BBC World News America, filling in for Matt Frei.[Authentication required.]
After September 11, 2001, Simon spoke and wrote in support of the "war on terror." Simon wrote an op-ed for the October 11, 2001 Wall Street Journal, "Even Pacifists Must Support This War." Simon questioned nonviolence at greater length in the Quaker publication Friends Journal in December 2001, provoking many angry letters, to which Simon replied in the May 2003 edition.
Simon met French documentary filmmaker Caroline Richard during an NPR interview in 2000. They married September 10, 2000, in a mixed faith (Methodist, Quaker, and Jewish) service in Ridgefield, Connecticut, at the home of fashion designer Alexander Julian. They have two daughters, both adopted as babies from China; the first, Elise, in 2004, and the second, Lina, in 2007. "Reflections on Welcoming a New Family Member", Scott Simon, Weekend Edition, June 30, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-10. They consider themselves a Jewish family.Simon and his wife were contacted by police as part of the Alexander Litvinenko poisoning. The family was staying at a hotel near the restaurant at the center of the poisoning incident, and had twice bought food there for their young daughter. The health of the family was not affected.