This post is an article from the Spring 2018 issue of the OYAN Review and has been edited slightly for publication on the blog. It was written by Kristy Kemper Hodge at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library.
It was Saturday night of the OASL Fall Conference, and Jason Reynolds towered on stage. He regaled us with the story of how he went from an obstinate non-reader to the author powerhouse he is today. The story begins with a much younger Jason, who grew up in a neighborhood that was dangerous and full of perils like gangs, shootings, drugs, and death. Where young men walked on one side of the law or the other, dealing and gang-banging or keeping their heads down, going to school, and staying out of trouble. Jason was able to keep out of trouble, and focus on school, but he was no reader. Why read? Why bother when there were no books about people like him? Who looked like him, talked like him, walked like him, lived like him? Or about people like his friends, family, and the people in his neighborhood? What could books possibly offer?
Then came Queen Latifah. Continue reading