Photo credits: CBS News
This past Monday (October 23rd), the Washington Post published a story, which profiled a young man named Jason Reynolds (pictured).
Reynolds, 33, is a New York Times best-selling author who has written nine books over the course of his literary career. He has also won his share of prestigious awards for his published offerings, including the NAACP Image Award and several Coretta Scott King Book Award honors.
The National Book Award finalist’s ninth book titled Long Way Down will be coming out this week. It is a novel based on the life of a young man coping with his brother’s shooting death. Reynolds has had quite an illustrious career. However, his background story is contrary to the typical author’s path.
In his exclusive interview with the Washington Post, Reynolds admitted that he never got great grades in school. He also said that he did not read his first book cover to cover until he was 17 years of age. A news reporting team followed Reynolds as he was lecturing a group of seventh-graders in Virginia recently.
“[Not reading a book until 17 is] not something I’m proud of. It’s not cool. The truth is, my life was made infinitely more difficult because I didn’t read any books. But I didn’t read any books. That’s my story. That’s my truth,” Reynolds testified in front of the school children.
Reynolds blames his lack of interest in reading on the mandatory literary choices he was given as a child. Various Shakespearean works and Moby Dick were on the menu, but those options did not satisfy his needs.
“The teacher was like, ‘Read this book about this man chasing a whale,’ and I’m like, bruh. . . . I don’t know if I can connect to a man chasing a whale when I’ve never seen a whale,” Reynolds told the Washington Post.
During his own literary career, Reynolds has kept that black child who was just like him in mind. His works tell stories that the contemporary black child who society has failed can relate to. Reynolds’ success story is a further reminder that ethnocentric education for black children is indeed vital to their growth and development.