Archive of Letters and Voices • Kelly Starling Lyons
• February 10, 2023
I love to read. That passion started when I was a kid like you. I couldn’t wait to go to Carnegie Library with my mom and brother Kevin and check out new books. Each turn of the page felt like I was flying to another world. I wanted to have that feeling again and again.
I read all kinds of stories – fantasy, mystery, biographies – and cherished each tale. But something important was missing. When I was young, I didn’t see many children’s books starring kids who looked like me.
I still remember the first one I saw. I was in third grade. As I flipped through a Troll book club catalog, I saw a cover that made me freeze. Cassie Logan, the main character of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, stared back at me. I was entranced. It was like I was seeing myself. It was like that book was telling me that my stories mattered, that my family, dreams and history deserved to be celebrated. I looked at that cover and didn’t need to know if the book had won awards or even what it was about. I wanted to make it mine.
Back then, I had no idea what that moment would mean for my life. But seeing that book planted a seed in my mind that bloomed into my becoming a children’s book author. Today, I’ve written more than two dozen books – easy readers, picture books and chapter books – that show Black children as main characters.
You may know some that appear in my series – Jada Jones, Miles Lewis, Ty from Ty’s Travels. I want you to read their stories and see pieces of yourself. Maybe you connect with what they love to do or how they show friendship and determination or the way they look or solve problems. I write so that kids like you know your stories are special and your families, dreams and history matter. I write so that kids like you know that you’re stars.
Think of the struggles you’ve faced and overcome. Consider the journeys you’ve taken. Think about the fun you’ve had with people you love. Who’s the best person to tell your story? You are. Be brave, dig deep and put your heart on the page. We need your voice. I can’t wait to read what you create.