Jason Reynolds’ Grab the Mic

Jason Reynolds was recently appointed as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by the LIbrary of Congress, and for his term he wants to speak to young readers in America. To do this during our time of quarantine, he has created two digital features under his “GRAB THE MIC: Tell Your Story” platform, which focuses on listening and empowering students to share their own personal stories. The video series titled “Write. Right. Rite” is where Reynolds shares his passion for storytelling and creativity. Each video ends with a prompt to encourage young people to work towards a specific idea and fun-filled activities. The “GRAB THE MIC: Tell Your Story” newsletter is a monthly newsletter where Reynolds can talk to you directly about relevant topics of the day. 

Visit Grab the Mic on the LOC website to explore your creativity with Jason Reynolds!

You can also check out some of his titles through Overdrive, which include:

Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks

This book, told in ten tales, tells of all the detours that happen on the way home. It is one the book LeVar Burton has read aloud during Levar Burton Reads

Check it out in the Libby app or online in ebook and audiobook format.

Long Way Down

One of the YA Novels in Verse staff picks, this is the story about teen gun violence and what a brother would do for his family. 

This book is also in ebook and audiobook format.

Miles Morales: Spider-Man

Miles Morales is Spider-Man. But he wonders if he is meant to save the world or just himself.

In ebook and audiobook format on Libby/Overdrive, and the one Jason Reynolds book currently available in hoopla.


Three YA Novels in Verse (And a Bonus Memoir!) to Celebrate National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month, and what better way to celebrate than, well, by reading poetry? If poetry is your thing (and even if it isn’t!), mix things up this month with some young adult novels in verse. These books combine the best of both worlds: the deeply impactful, engrossing storylines of a novel, with the linguistic lyricism of poetry. Check out a couple of these excellent, quick reads (or listens — all audiobooks here are four hours long or less) to get your poetry fix.

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

In this beautiful, award-winning debut novel by acclaimed slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo, Xiomara Batista grapples with religion, identity, and all of the complexities of being a teenager through the medium of slam poetry. If you have ever felt unsure or unheard and are looking for your voice, this one’s for you. Give this a listen if you can — Acevedo narrates the audiobook in expert slam poet fashion and it is superb.

Available as an ebook and e-audio on Overdrive/Libby and hoopla.

Bull by David Elliott

David Elliott’s Bull takes on the classic story of Theseus and the Minotaur and twists it into a rowdy, witty, Hamilton-esque myth-in-verse for the modern age. This dark comedy gives an unexpected, behind-the-scenes view of one of Greek mythology’s most infamous monsters and his cohorts. Sass abounds as some of the all-time Greek mythology greats chime in with their lyrical two cents. Ever wondered what it would be like if Poseidon could rap? Wonder no more. Warning for some explicit language, and also a warning for laughing your socks off. 

Available as an ebook on Overdrive/Libby and hoopla.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds 

Jason Reynolds began his life as a poet before going on to become an award-winning and prolific middle grade and young adult novelist. Long Way Down is his return to the world of poetry, and it is one heck of a homecoming. This is a dark, dizzying, and often difficult read about teenage gun violence, the lengths we will go to for the people we love, and the ghosts of the past that we just can’t shake. Reynolds narrates the powerful audio version of this book, which is well worth a listen.

Available as an ebook and e-audio on Overdrive/Libby. 

Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson

Laurie Halse Anderson’s deeply personal poetic memoir will break your heart — in the best way. She recounts her life, through poetry, and all of the events that were the basis for her modern classic, Speak. It is brave, touching, and raw, and will leave you with a healthy dose of righteous indignation and a little more courage than you came here with. Give a listen to the audiobook, too — it’s really something special to hear the author give voice to her own story. 

Available as an ebook and e-audio on Overdrive/Libby.