USC Aiken graduate writes children’s book | News

James Kelly always knew he could think of anything and accomplish it.

That’s exactly what he did after hearing about 9/11 on the radio while serving in the military for seven years. He did it again by earning a Bachelor of Education from USC Aiken in 2018.

And in 2021, Kelly decided to become a published author, which he accomplished with his first book, “Just a Kid.”

Kelly is a seventh and eighth grade social studies teacher at Williston-Elko Middle School. He got into teaching and writing after seeing different lifestyles while serving overseas in the military.


“I was able to go to places like El Salvador, Honduras and tour Afghanistan, and I got to see the world and I wanted to bring that to class because not everyone can leave South Carolina. , let alone the United States,” he said. . “…just being able to share a story with someone who may never have thought of a perspective in that way, I think it gives people a different point of view, it’s just a sort of opening for them.”

The book, aimed at elementary readers, follows kindergarten Serenity as she learns what it means to be a kid when the future looks daunting. Serenity is named after Kelly’s daughter.

“She tries to rationalize what it means to be a kid as adults try to pressure her to pursue a career,” Kelly said. “…it’s about looking at all these different roles that adults have and telling kids that they can be like this when they just think of themselves, how can I do all of this when I’m not than a child?”

“I feel like this is a story that hasn’t really been aired, but is so needed in today’s society where everyone is on TikTok, social media and they see everything. the world to do things,” he said. “…I feel like this is a coming-of-age story that kids really need today.”



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Kelly, a father of an elementary-aged child, believes that parents and children have a lot to learn.

“It’s really eye-opening for adults and children because you can see everything from a child’s perspective,” he said. “…I can kind of see myself putting my quirks on her sometimes, whether it’s in sports or in education, being a teacher myself. And the story even made me realize, hey, you know she’s only s6 right now and sometimes you gotta have the perspective that she’s still a kid even though she’s growing up before my eyes.

He hopes his students will find inspiration in becoming a published author and know they can pursue their dreams.

“Trying to put it all together and just come up with a thought and it’s really been almost overwhelming to see from development to implementation,” he said. “…seeing my students and how they reacted, hey Mr. Kelly, he wrote a book, it’s something he always wanted to do. Watching them see my dreams come true I think is even more amazing than having written the book itself because they can know that if Mr. Kelly can do it, so can I.

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