About Kelly Yang

Kelly Yang


Ever since she was a little girl, Kelly Yang has LOVED telling stories. She tells all kinds of stories -- stories about gutsy girls and bold boys, about motels, loan sharks, immigration, poverty, and race. The thing all her stories have in common is they are important, accessible, and filled with diverse characters.


is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the FRONT DESK, including FRONT DESK, THREE KEYS, and ROOM TO DREAM, and the winner of the 2019 Asian Pacific American Award for Literature. She is also the author of the middle grade novel NEW FROM HERE, the picture book YES WE WILL: ASIAN AMERICAN HEROES, and the young adult novels PARACHUTES and PRIVATE LABEL.. FRONT DESK was Kelly's award-winning debut middle grade 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 2018 Asian Pacific American Award for Literature, the Parents' Choice Gold Medal, is the 2019 Global Read Aloud, and has earned numerous other honors including being 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.

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 teacher, 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, California.

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Some Facts About Kelly

  • Kelly was born in China and came to the US when she was six

  • She did not know a word of English when she came to America

  • She grew up in motels in Southern California, where she managed the front desk just like Mia Tang!

  • She went to college at the age of 13

  • She went to law school but decided not to become a lawyer

  • She has three kids and a dog named Cody

  • She writes every day (or tries to), when she’s not out walking her dog!