“Here’s What I Do: Not Write Boring Books”
Jason Reynolds is the 2020-2022 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Born in Washington, DC and raised in neighboring Oxon Hill, Maryland, Reynolds found inspiration in rap to begin writing poetry at nine years old. He focused on poetry for approximately the next two decades, only reading a novel cover to cover for the first time at age 17 and publishing several poetry collections before he published his own first novel.
Embrace the Stories within Yourself
Inspiring young writers is incredibly important to Reynolds. He encourages young people to see the stories and books within themselves as valuable. Hear him talk about stories and inspiration in this interview with CBS Sunday Morning.
This short documentary finds Jason in the writer’s room preparing for the release of his next book. Here we catch a rare glimpse of a singular artist and thinker as he traverses the schools and landscapes of modern-day America. “Dear, Dreamer” is a testament to our shared experiences and the power of seeing yourself in books.
“You know, as a Black person, when I walk in a room and I spot the Black people in that room, it makes me feel safe and when I spot those Black folk, I can see everybody much more clearly, right? I’m open in a different way, right? I think that’s a human thing. And it’s no different when it comes to literature.” -Jason Reynolds
Award Winning Author
Jason Reynolds is a #1 New York Times bestselling author of many award-winning books, including Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks, All American Boys (with Brendan Kiely), Long Way Down, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You (with Ibram X. Kendi), Stuntboy, in the Meantime (illustrated by Raúl the Third), and Ain’t Burned All the Bright (with artwork by Jason Griffin). The recipient of a Newbery Honor, a Printz Honor, an NAACP Image Award, and multiple Coretta Scott King honors. He has appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Late Night with Seth Meyers, CBS Sunday Morning, Good Morning America, and various media outlets. He is on faculty at Lesley University, for the Writing for Young People MFA Program and lives in Washington, DC.
Supporting Mental Health in Youth
As an ambassador for reading during the pandemic, Jason reflects on reading loss and mental health in young people today.
“I’ll be honest with you, as concerned as I am about reading loss and learning loss, I’m not nearly as concerned about that than I am with the loss for the desire to live. And so though I want young people to catch up, what I know is that is possible, right? We can catch up when the reading allows. We can catch up on some of the deficiencies that have taken place or that may have been settling in now. But what we can’t do is catch up on a young person who decides that they’ve just had enough, that they feel so insignificant that they’re ready to hang it up. I’m more concerned with pouring love and compassion and hope and grace and patience into young people, because at the end of the day, though I love books, they’re just not as important as the young people themselves.”