***baby me  Dawson, Keila website 10945562_776446135758776_6725285338067353263_n***

Long Story (click here for the shorter version)

I was born and grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana. 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.

After graduating high school from St. Joseph Academy, I earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Southwestern Louisiana in 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 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. After leaving Texas, 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-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. In between visits with family in New Orleans and research trips throughout Louisiana, I now live in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Besides writing, my interests include early literacy instruction, special needs education, world travel, tennis, historical research, and genealogy. I am a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) and the Central and South Ohio Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (COSCBWI), and the 12×12 Picture Book Writing Challenge.

I write fiction and nonfiction picture books. I am a co-editor, along with Lindsay H. Metcalf and Jeanette Bradley of NO VOICE TOO SMALL: Fourteen Young Americans Making History (illustrated by Bradley, Charlesbridge), and the forthcoming NO WORLD TOO BIG: Young People Fighting Global Climate Change (Charlesbridge, spring, 2023), author of OPENING THE ROAD: Victor Hugo Green and His Green Book, illustrated by Alleanna Harris (Beaming Books), THE KING CAKE BABY (Pelican Publishing Co.), and the forthcoming YUMBO GUMBO (Charlesbridge Storytelling Math series, summer 2023).

Awards and honors for my books include an International Reading Association Children’s Book Award, a NCSS and NCTE Notable, Kirkus Best Book, Chicago Public Library Best Book, New York Public Library Best Book, Bank Street Best Book, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum’s Noteworthy Book, Jane Addams finalist, Ohioana finalist, and a 2023 Charlotte Award nominee.

When I’m not reading, writing, and visiting schools, I’m attending SCBWI events, traveling, playing tennis, or digging in genealogical archives.

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.

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