How I Went from Managing the FRONT DESK of a Motel to Becoming a Best-Selling, Award-Winning Author!
Kelly Yang talks about finding the courage to write FRONT DESK, her multiple award-winning, bestselling series, breaking down barriers for Asian American authors and what representation in literature means for the next generation.
When You Find Your Life Derailed
Powerhouse author Kelly Yang speaks candidly to young adults 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.
Learning / Being an Expert in the Art of the Pivot
When life throws you curveballs, how to curve right back, and see opportunity in a new way.
Book Bans and the Harm it Does
In this stirring, passionate talk, Kelly talks about what it is like to have her book banned, the ramifications of censorship, the importance of representation, and what’s at stake for the future.
Kelly Yang is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of award-winning middle grade and young adult novels, including the Front Desk series (Front Desk, Three Keys, Room to Dream, Key Player, Top Story), New From Here, Finally Seen, Parachutes, Private Label, as well as the picture book Yes We Will: Asian Americans Who Shaped This Country
With over 1.5 million copies sold to date, the Front Desk series has changed the landscape of Asian American representation in children’s literature. Based on Kelly’s childhood experience living and working in a motel as a first-generation immigrant child from China, the Front Desk series authentically describes the immigrant experience through its heart-warming, spunky protagonist, 10-year-old Mia Tang. Named “one of the 30 most influential children’s books of all time,” Front Desk has won some of the most prestigious awards in literature, including the 2019 Asian Pacific American Award for Literature, the Parents' Choice Gold Medal, was the 2019 Global Read Aloud, and many other honors. This powerful portrayal of the immigrant experience has led to multiple banning attempts on this iconic novel, which Kelly has combated vigorously, through her nonprofit and her voice as an activist.
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 overcame poverty to attend college at the age of 13 and law school at the age of 17. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School, where she was one of the youngest women ever to graduate. While at Harvard Law School, she experienced sexual assault, an event that derailed her life – she would later write about it in her novel Parachutes. When she graduated from law school, she decided to quit law to pursue her passion of writing and teaching children writing. She founded The Kelly Yang Project in Hong Kong, the leading writing and debating program for kids in Asia. She was also a columnist for over a decade, writing for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic.
In addition to being a novelist, Kelly has worked on the adaptations of her books. As a screenwriter, Kelly has worked with Netflix, CBS Studios, and the CW. She has three children and lives in Los Angeles.
A passionate and dynamic speaker about inclusivity, Asian American representation, and combatting book bans, Kelly has appeared on Good Morning America, NPR, NBC, ABC, and frequently gives interviews to The New York Times, Oprah Magazine, as well as many other publications.