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Behind the Stories

Each year, the United States Library of Congress celebrates books and literacy in a multi-day event called the National Book Festival. This year, the events were held virtually, with public libraries and other literacy groups sponsoring related events locally. One of the benefits of the virtual format is that the LoC is continuing to host recordings of the events on their website (at least for now!). The 10-day event this year included lots of author talks, interviews, and conversations. If you're following us on social media, you'll have seen our posts showcasing some of the titles by authors who participated in the festival.

You have told us that your students are increasingly curious about the authors of the titles they're reading. In this age of social media, celebrities and fans have direct access to one another, so interest in the creators behind favorite stories is natural. Ask your students who have social media to raise their hands if they follow any celebrities. We'd bet every hand goes up! So, we may as well use that interest in support of learning and literacy! Below, we've shared a selection of the authors who participated in the National Book Festival. Click the cover art or titles to access the books on Tales2go (make sure you're logged in on the browser of the device you're using right now). Click on the author names to visit the LoC site and watch any videos they recorded for the Festival. Head to this Google Sheet for all the titles we featured in our National Book Festival posts, including full book descriptions and age ratings.

9928Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes

The barbershop is where the magic happens. Boys go in as lumps of clay and, with princely robes draped around their shoulders, a dab of cool shaving cream on their foreheads, and a slow, steady cut, they become royalty. That crisp yet subtle line makes boys sharper, more visible, more aware of every great thing that could happen to them when they look good: lesser grades turn into As; girls take notice; even a mother's hug gets a little tighter. Everyone notices. A fresh cut makes boys fly. This rhythmic, read-aloud title is an unbridled celebration of the self-esteem, confidence, and swagger boys feel when they leave the barber's chair-a tradition that places on their heads a figurative crown, beaming with jewels, that confirms their brilliance and worth and helps them not only love and accept themselves but also take a giant step toward caring how they present themselves to the world. Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut is a high-spirited, engaging salute to the beautiful, raw, assured humanity of black boys and how they see themselves when they approve of their reflections in the mirror.

10835King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender

Twelve-year-old Kingston James is sure his brother Khalid has turned into a dragonfly. When Khalid unexpectedly passed away, he shed what was his first skin for another to live down by the bayou in their small Louisiana town. Khalid still visits in dreams, and King must keep these secrets to himself as he watches grief transform his family. It would be easier if King could talk with his best friend, Sandy Sanders. But just days before he died, Khalid told King to end their friendship, after overhearing a secret about Sandy - that he thinks he might be gay. But when Sandy goes missing, sparking a town-wide search, and King finds his former best friend hiding in a tent in his backyard, he agrees to help Sandy escape from his abusive father, and the two begin an adventure as they build their own private paradise down by the bayou and among the dragonflies. As King's friendship with Sandy is reignited, he's forced to confront questions about himself and the reality of his brother's death.

10176Louise, the Adventures of a Chicken by Kate DiCamillo

Pirates! Shipwrecks! Lion attacks! Chicken-napping! Louise is a chicken with a yen for adventure.... Barbara Rosenblat who reads the story with fine pacing and energy and creates unique personalities, voices, and accents for each character..... sound effects make this a treat for the ears as well as the imagination. -School Library Journal

 

12472-2The Skin I'm In by Sharon G. Flake

In The Skin I'm In, readers saw into the life of Maleeka Madison, a teen who suffered from the ridicule she received because of her dark skin color. For decades fans have wanted to know the fate of the bully who made Maleeka's life miserable, Char. Now in Sharon Flake's latest and unflinching novel, The Life I'm In, we follow Charlese Jones, who, with her raw, blistering voice speaks the truths many girls face, offering insight to some of the causes and conditions that make a bully. Turned out of the only home she has known, Char boards a bus to nowhere where she is lured into the dangerous web of human trafficking. While Char might be frightened, she remains strong and determined to bring herself and her fellow victims out of the dark and back into the light, reminding us why compassion is a powerful cure to the ills of the world. Sharon Flake's, Coretta Scott King Award-winning novel The Skin I'm In was a game changer when it was first published more than twenty years ago. It redefined young adult literature by presenting characters and real-world experiences that had not been fully seen. Now Flake offers readers another timely and radical story of a girl on the brink and how her choices will lead her to either fall, or fly.

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