By Tiffany, Mattawa Library
Walk into any library and you will see thousands of stories waiting to be read, looked at or listened to. However, any librarian will tell you the best stories belong to the people who walk through those library doors. This year, author Jason Reynolds is asking kids and teens “How can you challenge yourself to share what’s important and meaningful to you?”
For an unprecedented third year in a row, Reynolds — a poet and award-winning author — has been chosen to be the National Ambassador of Young Peoples’ Literature, an initiative sponsored by the Library of Congress.
Through his on-going platform GRAB THE MIC: Tell Your Story, Jason’s focus has been not only on sharing stories with young people, but helping them to see that they have stories of their own to tell.
As a youth, Reynolds was a reluctant reader who did not read a book on his own outside of school until he was 17! Reading the lyrics to rap music was how he got interested in writing. He knows from personal experience that writing can be a way of understanding who you are and where you are going. “It’s your turn to tell your own story,” he says, “and, in doing so, you may even discover the types of stories you like to read.”
In past years Jason has helped young people play with different ideas for storytelling through his fun Write, Right, Rite video prompts. These short, creative ideas like “Finding treasure at the bottom of the pool” or “Explaining love to a magical pet” help unlock writing that is unique to each person that takes it on.
This year Jason wants to literally capture the voices of young people as they tell their stories. Sharing their stories, and listening to those of peers, helps young people practice the empathy and mental strength needed for dealing with the constant changes the world is experiencing. There are Educator Guides available to help with the storytelling process that can be used at home, in school or after-school programs. Young people engage with different parts of the storytelling process and once they are able to complete a story, they can get help recording their stories as interviews or in a podcast format through StoryCorps Connectopens PDF file , a tool for remotely connecting people and preserving the recording at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
Connecting life experiences through stories can happen in books, but should happen every day in the lives of young people. Check out Jason Reynolds Grab the Mic resources for creating new stories, or …check out a book and start listening to one that’s already been written!
Readers of all ages will enjoy the many books by Reynolds found in our collection as ebooks and eaudiobooks or physical books on the shelf of your local library. Browse all of Reynolds’ titles in our collection here.