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Nashville Reads the Work of Jason Reynolds

January 9, 2024

NPL is kicking off 2024 in a big way with our newest season of Nashville Reads! This new year we will be reading and celebrating the work of Jason Reynolds.

Author Jason Reynolds. He is a black man with a beard and locked hair looking straight at the camera. He is wearing a short sleeved black t-shirt, and has his arms crossed.

Bestselling author, winner of multiple awards, and the 2020-2022 Ambassador for Young People's Literature, Reynolds writes all sorts of books for young people, including poetry, graphic novels, and picture books. Never one to shy away from tough topics, Reynolds has seen his work subject to challenges and censorship throughout his career. The freedom to read is vital, however, and we exercise that freedom when we read about different lives and viewpoints

Join us as we celebrate Jason Reynolds and his work during Nashville Reads with library programs for everyone, including crafts, book clubs, story times, and more. Programs are already in full swing, with the Hadley Park branch kicking off the festivities in a big way this past Saturday, January 6 with a party and a film screening. Way to go, Hadley Park! 

If you have never read any of Jason Reynolds' work, now is the perfect time. At BBTL, for example, we are big fans of his first-ever picture book, There Was a Party of Langston.

 Illustrated by brothers Jarrett and Jerome Pumphrey, this rhyming and rollicking children's book is an ode to literary giant Langston Hughes. Inspired by a luminous photograph of writers Maya Angelou and Amiri Baraka dancing at the 1991 grand opening of the Langston Hughes Auditorium at the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, this picture book is a celebration not only of Hughes and other writers, but also of words and public libraries. 

Some of our branches are following Hadley Park's lead and having their own parties for Langston later in the season. But why not have a party of your own, at home or in the classroom? You can download an activity kit from the publisher's website and send out invitations to your own literary fête for Langston Hughes. This is an ideal curriculum opportunity for Black History Month in February, for example, or for any time of the year. 

For middle grades readers in your life, consider the Stuntboy series

Portico Reeves is a boy with a secret identity. As Stuntboy, his job is to keep everyone in his life—his parents, his best friend Zola, and his neighbors—safe. But his parents are getting a divorce, and not being able to save them from fighting gives him "the frets," or what his mother calls anxiety. Will Stuntboy ask for help when he needs it? This graphic novel duology is perfect for fans of superheroes or stories set in the present day. In the classroom, students can write and illustrate their own graphic novels. There are also opportunities for social emotional learning around anxiety, divorce, bullying, and empathy. 

Teen and YA readers have plenty of Jason Reynolds' books to choose from, including poetry, nonfiction, and graphic novels. Long Way Down is a novel written in verse about gun violence and the lifelong impact of split second decisions. Longlisted for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and named as a Newbery, Coretta Scott King, and Printz Honor Book, this modern classic exemplifies why we are proud to have chosen Jason Reynolds' work for this season of Nashville Reads. 

Klem-Mari Cajigas


In a former life, Klem-Marí was a Religious Studies scholar. She much prefers being the Family Literacy Coordinator for Bringing Books to Life! She wants you to read and share books with the children in your life, and for those children to see you to read as well. Originally from Puerto Rico, Klem-Marí also enjoys her cat, baking, yoga, and the works of Octavia Butler.