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Go Ask Mom

Triangle mom, author works to encourage black children's book authors

Posted February 28
Updated February 29

Kelly Starling Lyons, children's author

Kelly Starling Lyons is a Triangle mom and an award-winning children's book author with a new book out this week.

"One More Dino on the Floor" is a lively counting book, best for kids 3 and up, that features dinosaurs getting their groove on. The book debuts Tuesday. Lyons will celebrate with a launch party at Quail Ridge Books & Music at 2 p.m., Saturday. (It will be the final author event at Quail Ridge's shop at Ridgewood Shopping Center off Wade Avenue in Raleigh. The store is moving to North Hills). The event includes an interactive reading, signing, craft, refreshments and a special dancing guest. This will be fun!

I've written about Lyons before as she's released other books. As an African-American author, mom and reader, she's worked hard to write books that feature black characters - an effort that started after reading "Something Beautiful" by Sharon Dennis Wyeth, a picture book about a young girl who searches for beauty in her neighborhood. Lyons was an adult when she first read it.

"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," she writes on her website. "Growing up, I rarely saw kids who looked like me as the main characters of children's books. I loved books and treasured every story I read. But after reading "Something Beautiful," I knew I had missed something important – reflections of myself. Right then, I decided to add my voice."

Today, her books include "One Million Men and Me," about the Million Man March; "Ellen's Broom," about a young girl who watches her parents, former slaves, register their marriage during Reconstruction; and "Tea Cakes for Tosh," about the history behind a grandmother's tea cake recipe.

Today, Lyons is part of the team behind The Brown Bookshelf, which works to raise the awareness of black children's book creators. As part of Black History Month, the group is celebrating its ninth annual 28 Days Later, which has included daily features of black authors or illustrators.

Why is it so important to encourage books that tell stories from all angles? They explore other cultures and experiences, which are important for all of us to read and understand. They also give children of all races characters to identify with and emulate.

As Black History Month comes to a close, I thought I'd check in with Lyons about some of her favorite children's books that feature black characters. Be sure to go to The Brown Bookshelf for more.

Here's what Lyons recommended:

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