Art Beat: Communiteen Read On Racism | WMUK

Art Beat: Communiteen Read On Racism

Mar 11, 2021

Credit Communiteen Read

All American Boys (Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/Atheneum, 2015) is the 2021 Communiteen Read, a collaboration between the Portage Public Schools, the Portage District Library, and Bookbug/this is a bookstore in Kalamazoo.


The 2015 young adult novel is about two high school students - one black, the other white - who confront racism and police brutality from two vastly different life experiences.

The novel was co-written by Brendan Kiely, who is white, and Jason Reynolds, who is black.

“Jason and I were very much together in mind and spirit when we decided to co-write a novel together,” Kiely says. “This is a book we published in 2015, so we’re coming up on six years and it’s quite sad how relevant it still is today. Jason and I were responding, at the time in 2014, to what was really kind of the beginnings of the Black Lives Matter movement. We were responding in different ways. We both were angry, but a different kind of anger. I can’t speak for Jason and the black experience as a white man, but I know that from taking the time to listen as much as I could, the kind of pain he was tapped into from a community perspective, the collective anguish that so many black families feel when they have to listen to yet another black family talk about the pain that they are going through.”

Credit Atheneum

Working together, the two authors shaped their two teenage characters, Rashad and Quinn, to work through differing experiences of racism and police brutality. The resulting book soon became a New York Times bestseller, a 2016 Coretta Scott King Author Honor book, and a recipient of the Walter Dean Myers Award for Outstanding Children’s Literature.

Brendan Kiely is also the New York Times bestselling author of The Last True Love Story, The Gospel of Winter, and Tradition. His work has been published in ten languages. Kiely's other awards include the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award. He was twice awarded "Best Fiction for Young Adults" (2015, 2017) by the American Library Association and was a Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2014 honoree.

Jason Reynolds is a New York Times bestselling author, a Newbery Award winner, a Printz Award Honoree, a two-time National Book Award finalist, a Kirkus Award winner, a two-time Walter Dean Myers Award winner, an NAACP Image Award Winner, and the recipient of multiple Coretta Scott King honors. He is also the 2020–2021 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. His many books include When I Was the Greatest, The Boy in the Black Suit, As Brave as You, For Every One, the "Track" series (Ghost, Patina, Sunny, and Lu), Look Both Ways, and Long Way Down.

The Communiteen Read was established in 2015 with a mission to connect teens and the community through a shared love of reading. The young adult novels chosen annually serve as a platform to make connections based on topics important to teens, genres that teens are reading, and authors who support the mission and vision of Communiteen.

Kiely and Reynolds will present the virtual author event "Antiracism and You: An Online Conversation," at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 16. Registration is required. This year’s event is sponsored in part by Miedema & Associates.

Listen to WMUK's Art Beat every Friday at 7:50 a.m. and 4:20 p.m.

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