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National Book Festival: Upcoming Live Q&A with Jason Reynolds Moderated by Teens

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On September 18, author and current National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Jason Reynolds will participate in a live virtual Q&A with nationwide audiences as part of the Library’s ten-day-long National Book Festival celebrations. Mark your calendars and follow this link to attend this event live!

Jason Reynolds is the author of 14 books, including Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks and a forthcoming graphic novel, Stuntboy in the Meantime, out in November. As National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Jason has been engaging kids throughout his term, asking them to honor, deepen, and share their voices since January 2020.

The Q&A will be moderated by two teens, Courtney Kim and Brandon Marshall, who attend high schools in the D.C. metropolitan area. We wanted to share a little bit about our young moderators in anticipation for the live Q&A on September 18!

Brandon Marshall interviews Katie Zhao, author of “How We Fall Apart” at National Book Festival 2021

Brandon attends a school of the arts, and his choice to pursue the museum studies track reflects his curiosity and love for all kinds of creative expression. This summer, he spent a lot of time learning how to play the guitar and writing spoken word poetry. He also continued his participation with the Kennedy Center Youth Council. He would like to intern at a the Library of Congress or a Smithsonian museum next year as he prepares for his school’s Senior Exhibition. He likes drawing and collaging, watching anime, hanging out with his friends in person and in the virtual space, and is always open to try something new.

Teen intern Courtney Kim interviews Jay Coles, author of “Things With Couldn’t Say” at National Book Festival 2021

Courtney is a storyteller and an equally curious person. She is a senior who is involved in her school’s debate team, and leads a podcast for her school’s newspaper. She is big on volunteering and mentoring kids, and made great memories this summer when she taught group swimming lessons for children. When she is not involved in school or extracurriculars, she enjoys taking morning or night time walks while listening to Korean indie songs or ballads for a refresh from day-to-day stresses.

Brandon and Courtney had a chance to spend some time with the Library of Congress this summer as they trained to become virtual author interviewers. They both loved the chance to “actually speak with a YA author,” describing the experience as “[simply] pretty awesome.” Brandon enjoyed being part of the National Book Festival as more than just a viewer or visitor, and Courtney says that this experience helped her see authors as “reachable beings,” which encouraged her to be more active in the literary world. She also mentioned that this experience helped her see “different careers that play a role in keeping the Library running.” For more on YA authors from this year’s Festival, follow this link for the schedule of Teen events.

Jason Reynolds answers viewer questions live during the virtual National Book Festival 2020.

This is Brandon and Courtney’s second opportunity to speak with an author and help readers connect with authors directly. Brandon and Courtney each hosted a recorded interview for the teen genre of this year’s festival. Look for their videos-on-demand starting on September 17. For this event with Jason Reynolds, Brandon is particularly interested in “learning about his creative process [and] asking about his experience as a Black man in America,” and Courtney is looking forward “to hearing more about his own childhood [and] what “youth” means to him,” since Jason is such a strong advocate for children and young people, often choosing to take a backseat to nudge young people’s progress forward (as can be seen in this Q&A from last year’s virtual National Book Festival). As a fellow creator, Brandon wants to learn who Jason’s inspirations are. Courtney, on the other hand, is looking for advice on “how to transition to an adult (if we ever do at all.)” The writers of this blog post are very much invested in this answer as well!

To attend the live conversation with Jason Reynolds, click on this link. Visit the National Book Festival page for more information about the festival’s videos on demand, live conversations with authors, podcasts, and more!

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