“As a black man and a white man, both writers and educators,” Reynolds said in an interview with publisher Simon & Schuster, “we came together to co-write a book about how systemic racism and police brutality affect the lives of young people in America, in order to create an important, unique, and honest work that would give young people and the people who educate them a tool for having these difficult but absolutely vital conversations.”
When it came time for Loudoun County Public Library staff to select a book for the annual 1book 1community reading and discussion program, All American Boys stood out for its captivating story and profound impact.
“The goal of 1book 1community is to spur meaningful conversations and increase understanding among students, educators and the larger Loudoun community,” said Susan VanEpps, LCPL’s Programming and Community Engagement Director. “The two sides of this story give readers the opportunity to experience the conflicting perspectives and struggles behind reactions to a traumatic event.”
The award-winning young-adult novel is the story of two teens, one black and one white: Rashad, who is savagely beaten by a police officer when he’s mistaken for a thief, and Quinn, who witnesses the violence but (initially) pretends he didn’t. Each account is written by a different author, resulting in an intriguing insider-outsider look at police brutality that demands discussion.
About 1book 1community
1book 1community is a countywide reading program that promotes community dialogue and understanding through the shared experience of reading and discussing the same book. Thousands of free copies of All American Boys are available at LCPL branches starting Monday, Oct. 15 while supplies last. Another 7,000 copies will be distributed to Loudoun County Public Schools where they are incorporated into curriculum.
Readers can meet Reynolds and Kiely on Saturday, Dec. 15 at 2 p.m. at Tuscarora High School in Leesburg. The authors will discuss their work, answer questions and sign copies of the book. The program is free and open to the public.
Prior to their visit, readers can discuss All American Boys at numerous books clubs.
The program is made possible by the Irwin Uran Gift Fund.
What parents should know
All American Boys is recommended for ages 12 and older by Common Sense Media. It contains mature content, particularly at the beginning, when Rashad is beaten up after he is mistakenly accused of shoplifting. It also includes cursing, references to underage drinking and addresses the topic of racism.
While past 1book 1community picks have been accessible for children in middle and elementary school, some parents might not be comfortable with All American Boys’ content. That’s why you’ll see library book clubs for families and tweens have picked two other books by Reynolds for discussion — namely Ghost and As Brave As You.
Loudoun County Public Library wants parents to know that All American Boys was selected because it provides a tool for young people and the adults in their lives to have vital conversations about important issues in today’s society. In an interview with NPR, Reynolds said, “No matter what adults say, nine times out of ten, the kids are ready to talk.”
Join the conversation at a library book club
Library book clubs will discuss All American Boys, unless otherwise noted.
Rust Library: Sunday, Oct. 21, 2 p.m.
As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds
Cascades Library: Sunday, Nov. 18, 2 p.m.
Ghost by Jason Reynolds
FOR GRADES 4-8
Gum Spring Library (Grades 6-8): Wednesday, Nov. 7, 7 p.m.
Ashburn Library (Grades 4-6): Thursday, Nov. 15, 7 p.m.
Ghost by Jason Reynolds
FOR HIGH SCHOOL
Gum Spring Library: Saturday, Nov. 10, 1 p.m.
Cascades Library: Tuesday, Nov. 27, 7 p.m.
Sterling Library: Thursday, Nov. 8, 1:30 p.m.
Sterling Library: Wednesday, Nov. 14, 7 p.m.
Gum Spring Library: Thursday, Nov. 15, 7 p.m.
Dulles South Senior Activity Center Book Club: Wednesday, Nov. 28, 10 a.m.
Ashburn Library: Tuesday, Dec. 4, 7 p.m.
Middleburg Library: Monday, Dec. 10, 7 p.m.
Lovettsville Library: Monday, Dec. 17, 1 p.m.
Rust Library: Tuesday, Dec. 18, 1:30 p.m.
ESOL BOOK CLUB
Ashburn Library: Thursday, Dec. 27, 10 a.m.
Previous 1book 1community titles and authors:
2017: Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
2016: Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
2015: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
2014: Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
2013: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba
2012: When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otsuka
2011: Purple Heart by Patricia McCormick
2010: Bicycles: Love Poems by Nikki Giovanni
2009: The Wall: Growing Up Behing the Iron Curtain by Peter Sis
2008: Nothing But the Truth by Avi
2007: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
2006: The Giver by Lois Lowry
2005: Witness by Karen Hesse
2004: The Sunflower by Simon Wiesenthal
A countywide reading program that promotes community dialogue and understanding through the shared experience of reading and discussing the same book.
Sponsored by the Irwin Uran Gift Fund