About

My first name is KEE-lah. Learn something interesting and listen to me pronounce it at TeachingBooks.

Keila V. Dawson writes fiction and nonfiction picture books. She is coeditor of NO VOICE TOO SMALL: FOURTEEN YOUNG AMERICANS MAKING HISTORY and the forthcoming NO WORLD TOO BIG: YOUNG PEOPLE FIGHTING GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE. Dawson is the author of OPENING THE ROAD: VICTOR HUGO GREEN and HIS GREEN BOOK, THE KING CAKE BABY, and the forthcoming YUMBO GUMBO. A New Orleans native, Dawson has also lived and worked in states across the U.S., and in the Philippines, Japan, and Egypt. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Awards and honors for her books include an International Reading Association Children’s Book Award, National Council of Social Studies and National Council of Teachers of English Notable book, a Kirkus star, featured on New York Public Library, Chicago Public Library, Bank Street, John F. Kennedy Library and Kirkus Best Books lists, a two-time Ohioana finalist, Jane Addams finalist, and a 2023 Charlotte Award nominee.

When Dawson isn’t reading, writing, and visiting schools, she’s traveling, playing tennis, or digging in genealogical archives. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

More about me:

Fortunately, I’ve lived in some interesting places in vastly different parts of the world. And during my travels have met many wonderful people in every destination. Here’s my story.

I was born and grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana. After graduating high school from St. Joseph Academy, I earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Southwestern Louisiana in Lafayette (now University of Louisiana-Lafayette), then completed my post-graduate education at the University of New Orleans.

Although intrigued by my first post college job working as a community organizer in the Vieux Carré and Faubourg Tremé neighborhoods of New Orleans, I eventually followed my passion to work with young children and their parents. So began my career as an early childhood special education teacher in the New Orleans Public School System.

I also love to travel, learn about cultures, and longed to live abroad. And employment with the Department of Defense Dependent Schools was my ticket to see the world and still teach. My first adventure abroad began with an assignment to the Philippine Islands. A few years later, a promotion led me to Yokosuka, Japan, where I met my husband, an officer in the US Navy. After living in Asia for five years, I repatriated to the US southwest, where I worked as a special education teacher in Houston, Texas. Then we moved to the West Coast, where I worked as a program consultant in the San Francisco Unified School District. After a move to the east coast, I became a clinical coordinator and developmental specialist in the School and Learning Disorders Division at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk, Virginia. When another opportunity to live abroad presented itself, my husband and I moved our family to Egypt. In Cairo, I worked as an independent consultant at the Learning Resource Center, an international educational diagnostic center and parent and teacher training facility.

After eight years in Egypt, our family repatriated to the west coast, this time to Los Angeles County, where I worked as an independent educational consultant. Within a year of our return to the United States, hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. After the devastation of my beloved city and losing family journals and photographs, I began a relentless pursuit of re-documenting our family history. Today I live in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Besides writing, my interests include early literacy instruction, special needs education, world travel, tennis, historical research, and genealogy. I am co-founder of KidLit For Growing Minds, a diverse group of award-winning and outstanding authors and author-illustrators who write nonfiction and informational stories to nurture growing minds & inspire curious kids.

I still have a love of international travel and had my first in-person school visit in Mombasa, Kenya, after the COVID-19 pandemic slowdown. And I still offer educational consulting with a group in Cairo, Egypt. When I take breaks from writing at home, you can find me on a tennis court or making discoveries and connections with others around the world through my genealogical research.

Merci beaucoup for stopping by!

Other Publications:

Dawson, Keila V. The Unexpected Expected: The Transition of My Third Culture Kids. Among Worlds Magazine, Reentry & Repatriation and (Interaction International) March 2014: 4-5. Print.

Dawson, Keila V. “Establishing a Community of Gens de Couleur Libres: Catalina’s Fight for Freedom.” La Créole, A Journal of Creole History and Genealogy 3.1 (2010): 26-31. Print.

LeFever, Gretchen, B, Ph.D.; Dawson, Keila V. M. Ed; Morrow, Ardythe L. Ph.D., The Extent of Drug Therapy for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Among Children in Public Schools. American Journal of Public Health. 1999;89:1359-1364.