Welcome to our ongoing celebration of the 2020 Library of Congress National Book Festival! If you love storytelling or are simply curious about the world, you’ve landed in the right place. As a way into this vast — and vastly fascinating — festival celebrating “American Ingenuity,” we offer here a string of highlights that truly illustrate the resilience, intelligence and wit of this year’s authors. Please enjoy, and make sure to explore our full National Book Festival video collection and special limited-time content on the Virtual Festival Platform.
The following post was written by Guy Lamolinara, communications officer in Literary Initiatives.
Many authors write for young people. But few can truly connect with them, speak their language, empathize, the way Jason Reynolds can.
One of the criteria in choosing a National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature is that the person must be able to relate to the people that diplomat will serve. For Reynolds, the current ambassador, that is nothing new. He has been communicating with the young in ways both lighthearted and profound throughout his entire career as a writer.
In his exclusive 2020 National Book Festival video, Reynolds talks about “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You” (Little, Brown), the bestselling book that he and African American studies scholar Ibram X. Kendi have produced to give children and young adults a timely, crucial and empowering exploration of racism — and antiracism — in America.
Reynolds is decidedly upbeat about the younger generation of Americans: “There’s something about them, the young people, this new generation, this new crop coming up that energizes me. … And I will do everything I can to fight on their behalf to shut down all the naysayers who talk terribly about them, and to stand beside them, not in front of them. To stand beside them, to help to guide them along their way, and maybe even stand behind them to give a little nudge when they feel a bit discouraged.”
Reynolds believes that “the past is in conversation with the future.” What he means is that we cannot escape history and its effects on the future. How we deal with the past, however, can have an important effect – for good or for bad – on that future. We all have a choice to make.
You can hear more from Reynolds and from many other writers for teens, such as Nic Stone, M.T. Anderson, Gene Luen Yang and Mike Curato, on the Virtual Festival Platform (Go to “Stages” tab and select “Teens.” Click on “Sessions” and select an author).
Additional content from Jason is available on the Engage! Page from the Library. Here, he shares his passion for storytelling through his GRAB THE MIC newsletter and ”Write. Right. Rite.,” a weekly GRAB THE MIC video series. Check out all of Jason Reynolds’ videos here and read all of his newsletters here.
Reynolds was part of the “Hearing Black Voices” Timely Topic Thread – a series of author videos that lets you explore a topic in depth. The other National Book Festival threads were “Fearless Women” (honoring the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment) and “Democracy in the 21st Century.” These are accessible from the “Stages” tab on the virtual platform.
Videos from more than 120 fascinating authors are available on the festival’s various stages, such as Children’s, Teens, Fiction, Genre Fiction, Poetry & Prose and Understanding Our World. You are certain to find a video, or two, or more that interests you.
The 2020 Library of Congress National Book Festival celebrated its 20th birthday this year. You can get up-to-the-minute festival news, highlights, and other important information by subscribing to this blog. The festival is made possible by the generosity of sponsors. You can support the festival, too, by making a gift now.