BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A Maryland native who never read a full book until he was 17 years old is now the new face of the Library of Congress.
Jason Reynolds grew up like a lot of kids in Prince George’s County in the 1980s and 90s. If reading didn’t capture his mind, his attention would go elsewhere.
Now, he’s an award-winning author whose intense writing inspires thousands. The Oxon Hill native was introduced to the world on CBS This Morning, but this time with comparisons of legends.
“He’s a rockstar in young adult literature. Young people of all ages and types of sizes and colors stand in line for two hours to interact with him,” said Carla Hayden, a librarian of Congress.
Here’s the proof, here in Baltimore, from when it happened in October.
Reynolds’ new two-year position aims to raise the nation’s appreciation of youth literature and develop lives — something he’s already taking part in.
“I can’t claim to love children if I only love some of them. I find that sometimes we overlook the kids in Iowa, the kids in Nebraska and small-town Alabama or Upstate New York,” Reynolds said.
The accolades don’t stop there. His book was selected by One Book Baltimore, a program that connects Baltimore City Middle School students, their families and community through literature by reading the same book.
This year’s selection: Reynold’s book “Long Way Down.”
“It’s really inspiring because it shows you how much he’s fostering this passion for literature in people who are young people here in the city of Baltimore and across the country,” said Megan McCorkell, with Enoch Pratt Library.
For a man who didn’t read a book until he was 17, Reynolds’ work started with a simple mindset he still keeps today.
“I believe it’s all about making sure that we’re giving them the thing that they want and need and them showing up for them to make it real,” Reynolds said.
He said one of the keys to getting young readers’ interest is to keep the exposition short. Most of the hooks of his stories are within the first few pages.
You can get a copy here.