2021: Kelly Starling Lyons


Kelly Starling Lyons, Children’s Literature

Kelly headshot 4Kelly Starling Lyons has been writing and publishing children’s books for more than fifteen years. She is the author of 16 children’s books, including the acclaimed picture books Ellen’s Broom, Going Down Home with Daddy, and Sing a Song: How Lift Every Voice and Sing Inspired Generations. She is the founder of The Brown Bookshelf, a digital resource for parents, teachers, and librarians designed to push awareness of the myriad Black voices writing for young readers. As an author, she visits schools, libraries, museums and community organizations around the country to present programs about the writing process, history and her literary journey. Her books have been named Caldecott honors, Bank Street Best Children’s Books, Junior Library Guild selections, Read Across America’s Book of the Month, and more. She currently lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.

For more information about Kelly, please visit her website.

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REFLECTIONS

I still remember the book that called me to write for children, Something Beautiful by Sharon Dennis Wyeth. It was the first time I saw an African-American girl featured on the cover of a picture book. As I read the story, I was touched in a special way.

Looking at that sweet-faced girl with pigtails and barrettes reminded me of my cousins, nieces, friends, the girl I used to be. Seeing her curiosity and passion to create change showed the beauty and power that exists in every child. My journey to be a children’s book author began at that moment.

I started reading about the art and craft of writing books for kids, taking classes and connecting with emerging and established authors. My mission began taking shape. I write to center Black heroes, celebrate family, friendship and heritage and show all kids the storyteller they hold inside. I write so that kids can see themselves in books and know that their families, dreams and history matter. I write to let kids know they are special and loved. I write to give back.

Throughout my fifteen-year career as a children’s book author, building bridges has been an integral part of my work. Whether sharing my own books, shining a light on children’s literature by other creators or color, helping kids discover the writer inside or guiding adult aspiring authors, I look for ways to unite people through the universal power of story.

Children’s literature moves and heals, fosters understanding of oneself and others, ignites imagination and pushes for change. I am excited to connect Triangle residents through this transformative medium by offering events and blog posts that inform and inspire. When I think about what I can offer as Piedmont Laureate, I picture the amazing kids and adults I see every day around the Triangle. It will be a gift to spend the year creating literary bridges that provide support, wonder, discovery and joy.