Popular young adult author Jason Reynolds speaks with students

Left: Reynolds kept students thinking and laughing during his presentation in the PAC. Right: During a smaller break out session, students were invited to ask Reynolds questions about his writing habits, his life, and inspiration for his characters.

As he told it, Jason Reynolds did not read a book until he was 18 years old. So how did Reynolds, a renowned author of young adult literature with titles on the New York Times bestseller list and Coretta Scott King & John Steptoe Award winner (among a long list of accolades), become such a success? He attributes his love of writing to his first inspiration: rap music.

Through a grant from the Hilliard Education Foundation, Media Specialist Liz Deskins invited Reynolds to speak to Bradley students. Reynolds shared his life and literary experiences during three different presentations on October 11; he spoke to a large group in the Performing Arts Center and described his upbringing and perspective on writing and education before speaking to two smaller groups in the afternoon. 

As he described his high school English classes, he recalled not being able to relate to the authors or books assigned to him. He turned to rap music and eventually to writing poetry to record his thoughts and to cope with his experiences. Offering some advice, Reynolds told a rapt audience that “there are no short cuts in education.” It wasn’t until he read a Richard Wright novel in college that he began to read and to eventually write fiction for young adults.

His advice to young writers? “Write a page a day.” Those unfinished projects writers have sitting around? “By the end of the school year, you can have an edited, complete manuscript,” Reynolds added.

Students can check out any of Reynolds’ works from the Media Center. Learn more about him at his website.