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Engaging with the Ambassador: Write.Right.Rite. with Jason Reynolds

GRAB THE MIC Newsletter logo

Jason Reynolds, our current Library of Congress National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, chose the platform, GRAB THE MIC: Tell Your Story.

His two-year term is devoted to listening and empowering students to share their own personal stories.

While he might not currently be traveling around the country, he is speaking directly to young people in his GRAB THE MIC monthly blog/newsletter, published the first Monday of each month.

Another element of Reynolds’ platform is Write. Right. Rite. The video series invites kids to creatively engage with the Ambassador’s passion for storytelling while discussing topics like creativity, connection, and imagination.

Reynolds describes Write.Right.Rite as about learning the ritual of “authentic”—not to be confused with “correct” or “exact”—expression.

I can absolutely see classroom teachers and librarians promoting these very cool video prompts to inspire student creativity.

Videos will be posted each week on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:30 a.m. EST through May 2020, with more promised over the summer.

In a recent Teaching with the Library of Congress blog post, Reynolds addressed how his life and his role as LOC Ambassador have been impacted by the restrictions of the current pandemic and how our imaginations might allow us to storm the gates of anxiety.

I’ve been quiet, trying to find the words to offer myself, my family and, of course, you. But the truth is, my words and my thoughts aren’t any more important than yours or anyone else’s—we’ve all got them—and many of us have shared them on our various platforms. This sharing sometimes brings on more anxiety, and other times washes us with hope. And both of these feelings birthed by all these shared thoughts are honest. So, some honesty: The tricky part about my title as ambassador is that it doesn’t come with answers. It doesn’t come with medical education, and there’s nothing inscribed on the back of the ambassador medal that tells me anything that leads us closer to the end of this strange time. But what I’d like to believe is that there are things we all have that can help us cope, help us hold each other up and press on in the face of a peculiar uncertainty . . .

The point is, as April continues to unfold, which—let us not forget— is National Poetry Month, let’s try as hard as we can to let our imaginations out of their cages so they can storm the gates of anxiety. Let’s make words that make worlds. Poems that feed us something sweet—or at least something honest. Or maybe something sweet and honest and sour and honest and funny and honest and scary and honest, like ice cream that changes flavors right in the middle of eating it.

Check out the Library of Congress GRAB THE MIC Resource Guide
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Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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