Kathlyn J.
Middle Grade Author
Civil Rights Activist
Travels from: Buffalo, NY

“Movements for change depend on their foot soldiers as much as their leaders, and Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me’ Round reminds us that a single voice indeed matters.” —Kip Wilson, author of White Rose

Born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Kathlyn J Kirkwood is the author of Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me ‘Round: the Story of an Everyday Activist and the Making of the Martin Luther King Holiday.

A retired college professor, Kathlyn focuses on writing for children and volunteering with under-priveleged 3rd and 4th grade students in the Nashville area. She has developed several innovative workshops that use trade books to help young people learn about the world beyond their immediate surroundings, and to inspire them with a love of reading.

Aint Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Round is a deeply moving middle grade memoir-in-verse about what it means to be an everyday activist and foot solider for racial justice. A blueprint for kids starting down their own paths to civic awareness, it shows life beyond protests and details the sustained time, passion, and energy it takes to turn an idea into a law.

Deftly weaving together monumental historical events with a heartfelt coming-of-age story and in-depth information on law making, Aint Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Round is the perfect engaging example of how history can help inform the present.

Kathlyn’s newest book No Chickens in the House! is coming soon.

Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me ’round: My Story of the Making of Martin Luther King Day

Versify |
Middle Grade Nonfiction in Verse

This brilliant memoir-in-verse tells the moving story of how a nation learned to celebrate a hero. Through years of protests and petition, Kathlyn’s story highlights the foot soldiers who fought to make Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a national holiday.

Aint Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Round is a deeply moving middle grade memoir about what it means to be an everyday activist and foot solider for racial justice, as Kathlyn recounts how, drawn to activism from childhood, she went from attending protests as a teenager to fighting for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday to become a national holiday as an adult. A blueprint for kids starting down their own paths to civic awareness, it shows life beyond protests and details the sustained time, passion, and energy it takes to turn an idea into a law.

Deftly weaving together monumental historical events with a heartfelt coming-of-age story and in-depth information on law making, Aint Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Round is the perfect engaging example of how history can help inform the present.

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School Visits

“What’s Your Story?”: Suitable for fourth grade through high school, this presentation focuses on my memoir – “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me ‘Round” to discuss my journey into activism from 18 years old to present. I talk about the importance of activism and using our individual gifts to make the world a better place.

“Sometimes “No” means “Not Right Now”: Suitable for fourth through eighth grade students, this presentation shares my journey to becoming a published author. I talk about how we can reframe and use rejections as feedback in furtherance of our hopes and dreams.

“Bringing Books to Life”: Suitable for third through fifth grade students, this presentation is a multi-sensory reading from a preset list of books. Discover more at the Literacy Lab tab.

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Professional Development

“Bringing Books to Life – The How-to Guide”: This workshop provides step-by-step instructions for how teachers, librarians and educators can adopt the Team Kirkwood methodology for increasing literacy and student engagement through books.

“Voting Rights Series”: This workshop provides teachers with a built-in lesson plan to discuss civic engagement and the importance of voting. Based in the Team Kirkwood methodology, the lesson plan includes age-based customizations ranging from speech writing, to class elections.

“Connecting History and Activism for Young Readers”: Presented at the 2022 ALA Conference, this workshop shows how history informs the present, and how librarians and teachers can help children see the past as a vibrant story that reverberates in their own time. View select presentation slides.

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Keynotes and Special Presentations

Kathlyn’s talk focuses on how she became a published author at 71 years old.

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Author Visits

Immersive book reading of Kathlyns debut book – Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me ‘Round – incorporating the music and songs of the Civil Rights Movement to bring the spirit of protest to the audience.

Team Kirkwood Literacy Lab

Kathlyn’s Blog

Kathlyn’s Events

Honors, Awards & Recognition

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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