Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Meet Our 2021 Conference Faculty: Kelly Starling Lyons

Meet the faculty of the 2021 Austin SCBWI Writers & Illustrators Working Conference. We’ve asked all our faculty members to answer 4 quick questions so we can get to know them better.

Kelly Starling Lyons, Author

Kelly Starling Lyons is an award-winning author, teaching artist and a founding member of The Brown Bookshelf. Her 17 titles for children span easy readers, picture books, chapter books, fiction, nonfiction, and series.They include Caldecott Honor winner Going Down Home with Daddy, Sing a Song: How Lift Every Voice & Sing Inspired Generations, Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon, Tiara’s Hat Parade and the Jada Jones and Ty’s Travels series. Find out more at

Kelly Starling Lyons
Author Kelly Starling Lyons

What attracted you to children’s books?

I know how it feels to rarely see yourself reflected in children’s books. I wanted to help make sure kids today have a different reality. My mission is to center Black heroes, celebrate family, friendship and heritage and show all kids the storyteller they hold inside.

What’s the best part of your job?

The best part of what I do is hearing from kids. When they share connections to a story I wrote or how it made them feel, that is better than any award.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

My most important job is being a mom. Sometimes it’s tough to focus on writing. I remind myself that I’m creating stories for my kids too and try my best to push through.

What’s the best piece of advice you were given that helped drive your career?

My two favorite pieces of advice are “Write the story only you can tell” and “It only takes one yes.” Those drive and inspire me to this day.

Come see Kelly Starling Lyons at the 2021 Austin SCBWI conference, May 1-2, 2021.