Kelly
Middle Grade/Young Adult Author
#1 NYT Bestseller
Travels from: Los Angeles, CA

“Emotionally immersive . . . a compelling and genuine coming-of-age story.” — Kirkus Reviews

Kelly Yang is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Front Desk series, including Front Desk, Three Keys, Room to Dream, and Key Player; New From Here; Finally Seen; Yes We Will, and young adult novels Parachutes and Private Label. Front Desk is Kelly’s award-winning middle grade debut novel about a 10 year old Chinese American immigrant girl who manages the front desk of a motel while her parents clean the rooms. Front Desk was awarded the 2019 Asian Pacific American Award for Literature, the Parents’ Choice Gold Medal, was the 2019 Global Read Aloud, and was named an Amazon Best Book of the Year, a Washington Post Best Book of the Year, a Kirkus Best Book of the Year, a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, a NPR Best Book of the Year, and a Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of the Year. In 2022, Front Desk was selected as one of the 30 most influential children’s books of all time (Book Riot).

In addition to writing books for young children, she is also a screenwriter. Kelly immigrated to America when she was 6 years old and grew up in Southern California, where she and her parents worked in three different motels. She eventually left the motels and went to college at the age of 13 and law school at the age of 17. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley, where she majored in Political Science, and Harvard Law School. After law school, she gave up law to pursue her passion of writing and teaching children writing. She is the founder of The Kelly Yang Project (kellyyang.edu.hk), a leading writing and debating program for kids in Asia. As a writing teacher for 13 years, Kelly helped thousands of children find their voice and become better writers and more powerful speakers. Before turning to fiction, she was also a columnist for the South China Morning Post for many years. Her writing has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic. She has three children and lives in Los Angeles.

Kelly’s Authors Unbound Profile: 

Key Player (Front Desk #4)

Scholastic Press |
Middle/YA

Mia Tang is going for the goal in the fourth Front Desk novel by New York Times bestselling author Kelly Yang!

The Women’s World Cup coming to Southern California, everyone is soccer-crazy — especially Mia Tang! The U.S. is playing China in the finals, and Mia feels like her two identities are finally coming together. Less exciting, though? The fact that her P.E. teacher wants Mia to get out of the soccer field, too — or fall short of the grade she needs to earn a spot at journalism camp. But as always, Mia Tang is ready with a plan: she’ll track down the two women’s teams, interview them, and write an A-grade article for P.E. instead!

It’s not so easy, though, finding professional athletes in Pasadena — or bringing two identities together, even during a game. As Mia aims for her goals, she’ll have to face prejudice, discrimination, and her own fears. But if anyone can find a way to win, it’s Mia Tang!

Private Label

Katherine Tegen Books |
Middle/YA

The Devil Wears Prada meets Far from the Tree in #1 New York Times bestselling author Kelly Yang’s powerful love story about two teens searching for their place in the world.

Serene dreams of making couture dresses even more stunning than her mom’s, but for now she’s an intern at her mom’s fashion label. When her mom receives a sudden diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, all that changes. Serene has to take over her mother’s business overnight while trying to figure out what happened with her dad in Beijing. He left before she was born, and Serene wants to find him, even if it means going against her mom’s one request—never look back.

Lian Chen moved from China to Serene’s mostly white Southern California beach town a year ago. He doesn’t fit in at school, where kids mispronounce his name. His parents don’t care about what he wants to do—comedy—and push him toward going to MIT engineering early. Lian thinks there’s nothing to stick around for until one day he starts a Chinese Club after school . . . and Serene walks in.

Worlds apart in the high school hierarchy, Serene and Lian soon find refuge in each other, falling in love as they navigate life-changing storms.

* Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection *

Yes We Will: Asian Americans Who Shaped This Country

Dial Books |
Nonfiction

From #1 NYT bestselling author Kelly Yang comes a gorgeously illustrated picture book about Asian American changemakers doing everything they dreamed of and inspiring all of us to reach for new heights!

From creating beautiful music like Yo-Yo Ma to flying to outer space like Franklin Chang-Díaz; from standing up to injustice like Fred Korematsu to becoming the first Asian American, Black and female vice president of the United States like Kamala Harris, this book illuminates the power of Asian Americans all over the country, in all sorts of fields.

Each spread is illustrated by a different renowned Asian American or Asian artist. Alongside the poetic main text, Yes We Will includes one-line biographies of the person or historical moment featured on the page, with extended biographies at the end. Readers of different ages and needs can use the book in different ways, from classroom discussions to bedtime readalouds and more.

Yes We Will answers the question, can we accomplish whatever we dream? With love, courage, determination, and lots of imagination, we can—and we will!

 

 

Featured changemakers:
Franklin Chang-Díaz
Lia Cirio
Tammy Duckworth
Jenny Han
Kamala Harris
H.E.R.
Fred Korematsu
Padma Lakshmi
Sunisa Lee
Jeremy Li
Yo-Yo Ma
Amanda Nguyen
Sandra Oh
I. M. Pei
Mamie Tape
Peter Tsai
Philip Vera Cruz
Vera Wang

New From Here

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers |
Middle/YA

An instant #1 New York Times bestseller!

This “timely and compelling” (Kirkus Reviews) middle grade novel about courage, hope, and resilience follows an Asian American boy fighting to keep his family together and stand up to racism during the initial outbreak of the coronavirus.

When the coronavirus hits Hong Kong, ten-year-old Knox Wei-Evans’s mom makes the last-minute decision to move him and his siblings back to California, where they think they will be safe. Suddenly, Knox has two days to prepare for an international move—and for leaving his dad, who has to stay for work.

At his new school in California, Knox struggles with being the new kid. His classmates think that because he’s from Asia, he must have brought over the virus. At home, Mom just got fired and is panicking over the loss of health insurance, and Dad doesn’t even know when he’ll see them again, since the flights have been cancelled. And everyone struggles with Knox’s blurting-things-out problem.

As racism skyrockets during COVID-19, Knox tries to stand up to hate, while finding his place in his new country. Can you belong if you’re feared; can you protect if you’re new? And how do you keep a family together when you’re oceans apart? Sometimes when the world is spinning out of control, the best way to get through it is to embrace our own lovable uniqueness.

Room to Dream (Front Desk #3)

Scholastic Press |
Middle/YA
New York Times bestselling author Kelly Yang is back with another heartwarming and inspiring story of Mia and friends! 

Mia Tang is going for her dreams!

 

After years of hard work, Mia Tang finally gets to go on vacation with her family — to China! A total dream come true! Mia can’t wait to see all her cousins and grandparents again, especially her cousin Shen. As she roams around Beijing, witnessing some of the big changes China’s going through, Mia thinks about the changes in her own life, like . . .

 

1. Lupe’s taking classes at the high school! And Mia’s own plans to be a big writer are . . . stuck.

2. Something happened with Jason and Mia has no idea what to do about it.

3. New buildings are popping up all around the motel, and small businesses are disappearing.

 

Can the Calivista survive? Buckle up! Mia is more determined than ever to get through the turbulence, now that she finally has . . . room to dream!

Three Keys (Front Desk #2)

Scholastic Press |
Middle/YA

The story of Mia and her family and friends at the Calivista Motel continues in this powerful, hilarious, and resonant sequel to the award-winning novel Front Desk.

 

Mia Tang thinks she’s going to have the best year ever. She and her parents are the proud owners of the Calivista Motel, Mia gets to run the front desk with her best friend, Lupe, and she’s finally getting somewhere with her writing!But as it turns out, sixth grade is no picnic…1. Mia’s new teacher doesn’t think her writing is all that great. And her entire class finds out she lives and works in a motel! 2. The motel is struggling, and Mia has to answer to the Calivista’s many, many worried investors.3. A new immigration law is looming and if it passes, it will threaten everything — and everyone — in Mia’s life.It’s a roller coaster of challenges, and Mia needs all of her determination to hang on tight. But if anyone can find the key to getting through turbulent times, it’s Mia Tang!

Parachutes

Katherine Tegen Books |
Middle/YA

Speak enters the world of Gossip Girl in this modern immigrant story from New York Times bestselling author Kelly Yang about two girls navigating wealth, power, friendship, and trauma.

They’re called parachutes: teenagers dropped off to live in private homes and study in the United States while their wealthy parents remain in Asia. Claire Wang never thought she’d be one of them, until her parents pluck her from her privileged life in Shanghai and enroll her at a high school in California.

Suddenly she finds herself living in a stranger’s house, with no one to tell her what to do for the first time in her life. She soon embraces her newfound freedom, especially when the hottest and most eligible parachute, Jay, asks her out.

Dani De La Cruz, Claire’s new host sister, couldn’t be less thrilled that her mom rented out a room to Claire. An academic and debate team star, Dani is determined to earn her way into Yale, even if it means competing with privileged kids who are buying their way to the top. But Dani’s game plan veers unexpectedly off course when her debate coach starts working with her privately.

As they steer their own distinct paths, Dani and Claire keep crashing into one another, setting a course that will change their lives forever.

Front Desk

Arthur A. Levine Books |
Middle/YA

Mia Tang has a lot of secrets. Number 1: She lives in a motel, not a big house. Every day, while her immigrant parents clean the rooms, ten-year-old Mia manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel and tends to its guests.Number 2: Her parents hide immigrants. And if the mean motel owner, Mr. Yao, finds out they’ve been letting them stay in the empty rooms for free, the Tangs will be doomed.Number 3: She wants to be a writer. But how can she when her mom thinks she should stick to math because English is not her first language?It will take all of Mia’s courage, kindness, and hard work to get through this year. Will she be able to hold on to her job, help the immigrants and guests, escape Mr. Yao, and go for her dreams?

How I went from managing the FRONT DESK of a motel to becoming a best-selling, award-winning author!

A one-of-a-kind, fascinating, and humorous talk by Kelly Yang on how she overcame poverty and language barriers as a young immigrant child to go for her dreams and become an award-winning author– guaranteed to inspire your students! Kelly is a powerful, dynamic public speaker and her talk, which she’s given at hundreds of schools, affirms and invigorates all students. A funny, interactive and deeply engaging talk, Kelly’s presentation gives students confidence and courage that they, too, can achieve their dreams. In addition to talking about her books, Kelly also shares practical writing tips and advice, from her 15+ years of experience being a writing teacher! This is a talk not to be missed!

What Libraries Mean To Me: That Powerful Moment When You’re FINALLY SEEN Through A Book

Kelly is a product of amazing libraries and librarians. In this powerful, heart-warming talk, she gives tribute to the libraries and librarians in our country, and how they nurtured her from a young age. She talks about how as a child, she used to hide in the library at school, because she didn’t want to tell anyone her enormous secret—she and her parents were first-generation struggling immigrants from China and they lived in a motel. She was worried about this secret getting out because she never saw that life represented in books. However, her librarians saw her and encouraged her to keep reading. With their help, she was able to excel in English, a language her parents did not know. Eventually, she was able to make it out of the motels and go on to enter university at the age of 13 and graduate from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School. She owes it all to the heroic librarians of this country who looked at her and didn’t see a poor motel girl with messy hair and tattered pants. They saw a girl with potential. Eventually, this inspired Kelly to write FRONT DESK, her award-winning, beloved, modern classic.

In this stirring, moving talk, Kelly also speaks about what’s at stake when books are banned. She talks about her own experience with having FRONT DESK banned in districts, and what removing the possibility for so many children to see themselves reflected in books means for our future, our nation, and most of all, our children.

When You Find Your Life Derailed: A Survivor's Story

Powerhouse children’s book author Kelly Yang speaks candidly to teenagers about an experience in her life which derailed her as a student and a young woman. A first generation immigrant, Kelly overcame poverty to become the youngest woman to attend Harvard Law School at the age of 17. The last thing she ever expected to happen to her at Harvard Law School was sexual assault.

Kelly opens up to teens about consent, her trial in Harvard’s mini-court system, the injustice of the verdict, the toll on her immigrant parents, and the experience of having her goals and identity derailed by this experience. As heart-breaking as the trial was, Kelly refused to let the experience wipe her out. She talks about bravely putting herself back together afterwards, piece by piece. In order to find a new path, she had to search deep down inside her and find the one piece of identity that could not be taken away, no matter what happened. A writer.

She talks about finding the courage to write her critically acclaimed young adult novel Parachutes, and embracing her survivorship. Sometimes an experience can derail you, but you never know what can bloom from the aftermath.

Combining pain, resilience, and humor in Kelly’s signature dynamic and relatable speaking style, this inspiring talk will open your students’ eyes and leave them better prepared to navigate their young adult lives!

Kelly’s Press Kit

Kelly’s News

Resources for Teachers

Pandemic Story

Honors, Awards & Recognition

WINNER 2019 – Asian / Pacific American Award for Literature
WINNER 2018 – Parents’ Choice Gold Medal Fiction
WINNER 2018 – Bookstagram Choice Awards Best Diverse Middle Grade Fiction
WINNER 2019 – Chinese American Librarians Association CALA Best Book Award
2019 Global Read Aloud Middle Grade Fiction
2019 New York Historical Society Children’s History Book Prize Honor Book
2019 E.B. White Read Aloud Award Honor Book
2019 Project Lit Selection Middle Grade Selection
WINNER 2021 – Washington Library Association Sasquatch Book Award
WINNER 2020 – North Carolina Children’s Book Award
WINNER 2020 – Cartwheel Award
WINNER 2019 – Oklahoma Sequoyah Children’s Book Award
WINNER 2021 – Illinois Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award
WINNER 2019 – Virginia Reader’s Choice Award
WINNER 2019 – Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Book Award
WINNER 2019 – Michigan YouPer (Young Person) Award
WINNER 2020 – Hawaii Children’s Choice Award
WINNER 2021 – Massachusetts Children’s Book Award
WINNER 2020 – Panda Book Award, Asia
WINNER 2022, Highly Commended – UKLA Award, UK
SHORTLISTED 2022 – Waterstone’s Children’s Book Award, UK
NOMINEE 2020 – Minnesota Youth Reading Award
NOMINEE 2019 – Kentucky Bluegrass Children’s Book Award
NOMINEE 2020 – Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award
NOMINEE 2019 – Vermont Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book Award
NOMINEE 2019 – Rhode Island Children’s Book Award
NOMINEE 2020 – North Dakota Flicker Tale Book Award
BEST OF CHILDREN’S BOOKS 2019 – Bank Street Children’s Book Committee
BEST OF CHILDREN’S BOOKS 2018 – Kirkus Reviews
BEST OF CHILDREN’S BOOKS 2018 – Publisher’s Weekly
BEST OF CHILDREN’S BOOKS 2018 – Washington Post
BEST OF CHILDREN’S BOOKS 2018 – NPR
BEST OF CHILDREN’S BOOKS 2018 – Amazon
BEST OF CHILDREN’S BOOKS 2018 – NBC
BEST OF CHILDREN’S BOOKS 2018 – School Library Journal
BEST OF CHILDREN’S BOOKS 2018 – New York Public Library
BEST OF CHILDREN’S BOOKS 2018 – Chicago Public Library
BEST OF CHILDREN’S BOOKS 2018 – Book Page
BEST OF CHILDREN’S BOOKS 2018 – The News & Observer
BEST OF CHILDREN’S BOOKS 2018 – Huffington Post
BEST BOOKS OF 2018 – Center for the Study of Multiculural Children’s Literature
SEMI-FINALIST 2018 – Goodreads Choice Awards Best Middle Grade Fiction
MIDDLE GRADE FICTION EDITOR’S CHOICE 2018 – ALA Booklist
NOTABLE BOOK 2019 – Association for Library Service to Children
NOMINEE 2019 – Georgia Children’s Book Awards
TOP TEN DEBUT NOVELS 2018 – ALA Booklist for Young Adults
TEN DIVERSE MIDDLE GRADE NOVELS 2018 – Inculture Parent

Media Kit

By clicking the link below your will be directed to a Google Docs Folder
where you can download author photos and cover images.

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