Prose advice from a pro
Newbery Medal Award winner Alexander meets fans at Waldorf library
About 100 Charles County residents came to the Waldorf West Library Monday to get books signed and meet Newbery Medal Award winning author Kwame Alexander.
“The Charles County Public Library is thrilled to have Newbery award winning author Kwame Alexander come to talk about his work,” said Janet Salazar, executive director of Charles County Public Library. “We are pleased to be able to offer the children of Charles County the opportunity to meet an author of Mr. Alexander’s caliber. The influence Alexander’s visit will have on the young minds of Charles County is immeasurable.”
“This is a rare treat for Charles County, the ability to listen to the wisdom of a local author who is so prominently known throughout the literary community doesn’t happen every day. Charles County Public Library is ecstatic at the opportunity to share Mr. Alexander’s wit and insight with our community,” said Charles County Public Library Program Coordinator Sarah Guy.
Alexander was awarded the 2015 Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Award for his book “The Crossover,” which was also recognized as the year’s “most distinguished contri- bution to American literature for children.”
“The Crossover,” which is told entirely through verse, was first published in the U.S. in hardback on March 18, 2014, by HMH Books for Young Readers. The story follows two African-American twin brothers that share a love for basketball but find themselves drifting apart as they head into their junior high school years.
Alexander is also the author of several teen and adult titles including “Acoustic Rooster and His Barnyard Band” and “Surf’s Up.”
Charles County Commissioner Amanda Stewart (D) thanked Alexander for coming to Charles County and expressed how very honored the community was to have Alexander plan this event and reach out to the county.
“Libraries and education are very important to me. It is also important that we continue grow in our community and making sure that we focus on our citizens, ensuring they have facilities such as Waldorf West,” Stewart said. “We’re excited that Alexander is here and we are proud of the work he is doing and the books he is writing.”
Stewart read a proclamation from the Charles County Commissioners honoring Alexander for being an American writer in children’s fiction and presented him a small gift made especially for an author.
“I’ve been in the D.C. metropolitan area since 1990 so it just feels good to be acknowledged or recognized by the people who knew you before you had any success. It’s reassuring and validates you when the people from your community acknowledge you in those profound ways,” Alexander said.
Alexander, who was shocked to be receiving a proclamation from the county commissioners, thanked the Waldorf West Library for inviting him and welcomed the students that came out. He took the time to share his experiences in writing as well as his inspiration for his stories and poetry to the audience of readers.
“I remember as a child, I loved reading books and poetry until I was 9 and then I had fell out of love with books. My father was constantly making me read my encyclopedia and my high school teachers expected me to be excited about books,” Alexander said. “I didn’t have the bridge between elementary school and high school and my goal was to be that bridge for young people and to help them still appreciate the power and the joy of poetry.”
Alexander read several lines from his more recent novel, “Booked,” about a boy who learns the power of words as he struggles with problems at home, a bully at school and tries to impress the girl of his dreams. Alexander then explained to his audience about how books and poetry personally saved his life as well.
“My first book had been rejected 22 times by various editors but I was determined to get my book published,” Alexander said. “I believed my book was good. You have to believe in yourself or else other people won’t believe in you.”
Alexander said he wants to continue to encourage young readers to think differently about literacy and poetry.
“Young people need to know that reading can be something that opens a world of possibility for them and that life experiences are not all going to be easy but it’s important to know that you took a risk and persevered,” Alexander said.
At Waldorf West Library on May 9, Newbery Award winner Kwame Alexander, who is originally from the Washington, D.C., area, thanked all the students for coming out on a school night and spoke of his journey to success. His journey began with his love for reading and poetry.
Newbery Medal Award winning author Kwame Alexander receives a proclamation from Charles County Commissioner Amanda Stewart, signed by all of the Charles County Commissioners, on May 9 at Waldorf West Library.