Must-Read Books for Children and Teens by Alumni Authors | Projector

It’s been a big year for former Wellesley authors writing for young people. Malinda Lo ’96, Andrea Wang ’92 and Cynthia Levinson ’67 have all won major awards for their recent work. And all three say the skills they learned at Wellesley College helped them write these amazing books.

” Be ready. Do your research. Know what you’re talking about before you open your mouth. And go ahead, you can do it. That’s what Wellesley taught me,” Lo said in an interview with Wellesley Underground. Wang is convinced that Wellesley made her a better writer. “In biology, especially in ecology, I was interested in how everything is interconnected,” says Wang. “And that’s something that I really take with me in my writing.”

Lo’s novel Last night at the Telegraph Club is a New York Times bestseller and winner of multiple awards, including the prestigious National Book Award, the first young adult novel featuring an LGBTQ+ protagonist to be so honored. The book focuses on Lily, a Chinese-American teenager growing up in San Francisco’s Chinatown in the 1950s as she comes to terms with her sexuality. It has become a darling of TikTok book reviewers and book clubs, not least because of its portrayal of queer people of color. “I always write for myself first, then I want to reach readers who are like me, so I’m really interested in reaching readers who are queer women and girls, queer Asian women and girls,” he said. said Lo. Literary Lambda.

by Wang Cress, illustrated by Jason Chin, won the 2022 Caldecott Medal, awarded to the most distinguished children’s picture book, and was a Newbery Honor book. It’s about a young girl who learns the importance of her family’s Chinese heritage while picking watercress on the side of an Ohio highway. Food and nature are integral to the book, partly because Wang studied biology at Wellesley and partly because, as she says, “I’m a little obsessed with food.” Cress is based on Wang’s own life; she hunted watercress by the side of the road, just like the heroine of her story. “It was one of those memories that haunted me, that wouldn’t let me go,” she says. “And what I do is I write about things so I can understand them.” The story began as an adult essay, then grew into a longer picture book written in the third person, and finally, eight years later, Wang found the story’s final form. After all that hard work, she says, the incredible recognition the book has gotten has been particularly pleasing.

Levinson’s book The People’s Painter is also based on a true story, that of Jewish artist Ben Shahn, who used his work for activism. As a child, she was drawn to his works: “I loved his work, I loved his accessibility. It was understandable from a child’s point of view. Many of his stories describe history to a young audience (one is a biography of Hillary Rodham Clinton ’69 for middle schoolers). Her work has won numerous awards, including several Bank Street Best Children’s Book Awards, which she says she finds “exhilarating”. The People’s Painter won the 2022 Sibert Medal, which recognizes the most distinguished children’s information book; she says this award has touched her the most.

The three authors are currently working on new books. Lo is A light scattera companion to Last Night at the Telegraph Club, will be published in October, and Wang’s Luli and the language of tea is now available. Levinson has three non-fiction books coming out in the near future.

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