r’s note: this post was intended to go live a few weeks ago. I forgot to hit send so please enjoy.
The love and joy of reading as a teen was stoked with Sweet Valley High (twins…duh!), a few Lois Duncan books (I am still trying to learn the art of astral project myself) and Sunfire Romances (my favorites were Roxanne because she was a movie star and had not one, not two but THREE men chasing her and Corey because she escaped slavery and was all about living that free life). I am sure there were some other books sprinkled in but there is nothing like the diverse books available today for the book loving reader of YA.
A few years ago I kept hearing about a book called “The Boy in the Black Suit,” by Jason Reynolds. I ordered the from work and spent a few days staying up reading and tearing up at the story of Matt, the previously mentioned boy in black suit. I read Jason’s other book, When I Was the Greatest (which mentions knitting!) and was hooked.
Jason Reynolds is such a master with his words and the way he makes them come alive on the page. He unapologetically writes for children, children who are Black and Brown. Jason loves and cares for these children, as seen in his characters, and he is letting these Black and Brown children know that they are seen and that they matter and are loved.
I recently had the opportunity to see him speak. In a conversation with Laurie Halse Anderson (who is also wonderful) he talked about his process, his family (his mother sounds like a phenomenal woman) and he spent time treating each and every member of the audience as if they were important, and special.
Before he ended his talk, Jason shared this nugget: Give yourself the gift of yourself and to know that “what makes them made, makes you magic” and I have been thinking about these words since.
How can I give my library kids the space to learn the gift of themselves and how can I embrace them and their magic? How do I give my own daughter this gift?
It’s humbling as I see how much work there is to be done. But a wonderful challenge that I also begin to appreciate the gift that is myself.