Kelly Starling Lyons began her journey to become a children’s book author in her hometown of Pittsburgh. She learned the art of storytelling from her mom who took her to productions at a children’s playhouse, wrote plays and made up bedtime tales. Her grandparents, who showed their imagination through cooking and gardening, taught her to honor the magic of history and home. Surrounded by creativity, Lyons began to write.

   She curled up near the radiator behind her bedroom door and allowed her pen to take her to other worlds. A canopy of trees transformed into a make-believe fortress, backyards hid treasure and tunnels to faraway lands, bridges that crossed the Monongahela, Allegheny and Ohio rivers spanned distance and time.

   Now a children’s book author and freelance writer, Lyons’s mission is to transform moments, memories and history into stories of discovery. Her books include One Million Men and Me, a CCBC Choices 2008 title, that explores the Million Man March through the eyes of a girl who was there with her dad that day, and the chapter book NEATE: Eddie’s Ordeal. In her author visits, she engages the children with her own stories and the stories of other people in history. She also offers workshops on the creation of books, and a reader’s theatre version of Eddie’s Ordeal.

Selected Reviews of Kelly’s Books

One Million Men and Me
Kelly Starling Lyons
   Author Kelly Starling Lyons covered the 1995 Million Man March in Washington D.C. as a journalist. She was struck by the sight of a little girl “clutching her Daddy’s hand. Her eyes, big as quarters, glittered like diamonds. She walked like a little princess among kings.” That scene inspired this picture book, told in the voice of a small girl attending the march with her daddy. “Everywhere I looked, fathers and sons, friends and strangers, clasped hands in unity. Their faces filled with pride. Their hearts swelled with hope. I held my head a little higher.” Lyons’ brief, purposeful narrative captures the awe of a young child who is taking in everything she sees and hears and holding it in her heart. CCBC Category: Historical People, Places, and Events. 2007, Just Us Books, 32 pages, $16.95. Ages 4-8. (Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choices 2008)

Eddie’s Ordeal
Kelly Starling Lyons
   “…there’s plenty of building tension as Dad’s secret is revealed and Liz competes with Jasmine in the talent show. The talk is casual and contemporary, and readers will like the family drama as well as the warmth among friends and the realistic view of failure and success.” 2004, Just Us Books, $3.95. Gr. 5-8. Hazel Rochman (Booklist, Feb. 1, 2005 (Vol. 101, No. 11))

Program Details

Bringing Black History to Life

How many times have you heard kids groan about history lessons? In this multimedia presentation, students get plugged in through activities like learning how black history inspired Kelly’s books, exploring the role young people played in the civil rights movement, looking at compelling images from the past, singing freedom songs, hearing a reading of Kelly’s picture book, One Million Men and Me, and acting out a pivotal scene from her chapter book, NEATE: Eddie’s Ordeal. Grades 3-8.

A Writer’s Journey

Kelly has dreamed of being an author since she was a child. In this workshop, she takes your students on her journey from writing poems in school to becoming a freelance writer and children’s book author. She talks ideas, revision, writer’s block, publishing. Kelly brings early drafts of stories, rejection letters and more to give kids a peek into a published writer’s world. Just as Kelly’s stories are inspired by memories, history and every-day moments, students will learn how to mine their lives and surroundings for ideas too. Kelly will leave them with a list of markets they can try. Grades 3-8.

Book Talk

Let Kelly lead your students in a fun workshop about NEATE: Eddie’s Ordeal (grades 4-8) or One Million Men and Me (K-5). She will share the story behind the book, talk about the history that inspired it, engage students in discussing themes, answer questions and offer related writing/art projects.

What’s the best writing advice Kelly has ever received? Write the story only you can tell. She reads rom her work and talks about how that philosophy inspires her books for children.

Technical requirements for presentations – A PowerPoint projector.

Travel costs outside Raleigh-Durham area to be covered by sponsor.

Additional Information

To learn more about Kelly Starling Lyons and her publications please visit