National Ambassador for Children’s Literature Jason Reynolds Headlines All-Star Children’s Author Lineup This Winter


For Immediate Release: January 21, 2021

Media Contact: Jaime Wong 
415-214-2279 |

National Ambassador for Children’s Literature Jason Reynolds Headlines All-Star Children’s Author Lineup This Winter
Authors Jason Reynolds, Elizabeth Acevedo, Mahogany L. Browne, Torrey Maldonado, Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson speak on the importance and power of diverse children’s books

 Jason Reynolds, Elizabeth Acevedo, Mahogany L. Browne, Christian Robinson, Matt de la Peña, Torrey Maldonado

(l-r: Jason Reynolds, Elizabeth Acevedo, Mahogany L. Browne, Christian Robinson, Matt de la Peña, Torrey Maldonado)

San Francisco — A star-studded lineup of the biggest names in children’s literature light up the Library’s virtual stage in a series of programs this February for Black History Month. Beloved authors Jason Reynolds, Elizabeth Acevedo, Mahogany L. Browne, Torrey Maldonado, Matt de la Peña and illustrator Christian Robinson discuss their modern classics and the ageless power of children’s literature to transform our understanding of the world. From young adult literature to picture books, these authors have wisdom, wit, inspiration and lyrical wordsmithing to share.

The Library is thrilled to announce that Jason Reynolds, author of National Book Award finalist Ghost, the Newbery Honor Award-winning Long Way Down and numerous other titles for middle grade and young adult readers, will deliver the 25th Effie Lee Morris Lecture in a special livestreamed event on Thursday, February 25.

The winner of a Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent, an 2017 NAACP Image Award, and multiple other honors, Reynolds spent 2020 serving as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, sharing his journey as a writer—and a reader—with youth during a year of previously unimaginable transformation. Prepare to be transformed by Reynolds’ own insights on the theme of transformation during this free event.

“As a prominent and influential Black librarian, Effie Lee Morris was a pioneer in advancing children’s literature, both in San Francisco and beyond. Her legacy includes building active outreach programs to the Black and Brown communities across the City and establishing a research collection of children’s books that depict the changing portrayals of ethnic and culturally diverse groups over the 20th century. Bringing Jason Reynolds to the library to give a talk in her honor could not be more exciting—especially now, when his message is so resonant and so very necessary,” said Naomi Jelks, librarian and third floor manager of the Main Library.

One of the most recognizable voices in young adult literature today, award-winning and New York Times-bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo is joined by fellow author, organizer and educator Mahogany L. Browne in a necessary conversation about social justice and equality on the heels of Acevedo’s collaboration on Browne’s recent book, Woke: A Young Poet’s Call to Justice. In this special engagement in partnership with the SFUSD, students and educators alike are invited to listen, be inspired and learn from two of the most vital voices in YA literature today.

The popular picture book duo Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson come to the Library’s virtual stage on February 5 to launch their new book Milo Imagines the World. The team behind the Newbery Medal winner and Caldecott Honor book Last Stop on Market Street and the award-winning New York Times bestseller Carmela Full of Wishes once again delivers a poignant and timely picture book that's sure to become an instant classic. 
Milo is on a long subway ride with his older sister. To pass the time, he studies the faces around him and makes pictures of their lives. There's the whiskered man with the crossword puzzle; Milo imagines him playing solitaire in a cluttered apartment full of pets. There's the wedding-dressed woman with a little dog peeking out of her handbag; Milo imagines her in a grand cathedral ceremony. And then there's the boy in the suit with the bright white sneakers; Milo imagines him arriving home to a castle with a drawbridge and a butler. But when the boy in the suit gets off on the same stop as Milo—walking the same path, going to the exact same place—Milo realizes that you can't really know anyone just by looking at them. 

“America has the highest incarceration rate in the world, a fact that disproportionately affects people of color,” said de la Peña. “This is the backdrop of our new collaboration, inspired by Christian’s own childhood. But Milo’s journey to visit his mom is about so much more than forced separation. It’s also about joy. And imagination. And curiosity. And the power of self-expression. It’s about the importance of being able to move beyond lazy stereotypes.” 

“Milo’s story is my story,” said Robinson. “Like Milo, I grew up with an incarcerated parent. I rarely, if ever, saw stories that reflected this reality. As a child, I felt a lot of shame and embarrassment and thought it was something I had to keep secret. But many kids share this experience, and Matt and I want to send the message that they are not alone.”

Don’t miss a powerful and timely discussion about this new children’s book with Sheryl Evans Davis, Executive Director of the Human Rights Commission. Milo Imagines the World is available for purchase from the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library. A signed bookplate by the author and illustrator, plus Milo Imagines the World poster, is included with purchase.

Lastly, Torrey Maldonado, teacher and author of middle grade titles Tight, Secret Saturdays and What Lane? discusses friendship, race, school life and city life in his novels on February 24. Maldonado, a critically acclaimed author, has taught for over two decades in the same Brooklyn neighborhood where he was born and raised. Drawing from his and his students' experiences, Maldonado's work insightfully explores universal themes with honesty, authenticity and dignity in a way that connects with tween and teen readers. Tight was named Best Book of the Year by the Washington Post and NPR and won a humanitarian Christopher Award. Maldonado’s most current work, What Lane?, has received starred reviews and is listed in O, The Oprah Magazine and the New York Times as an essential antiracist book to discuss daily racism and allyship.

These programs take place as part of the Library’s More Than a Month program, its celebration of Black History Month and beyond.

Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson – Feb. 5, 2 p.m.


Torrey Maldonado – Feb. 24, 4 p.m.


Elizabeth Acevedo and Mahogany L. Browne – Feb. 25, 2 p.m.


Jason Reynolds on Transformation – Feb. 25, 5 p.m.

Registration required:


About More Than a Month

Black History Month is a fundamental part of our nation’s tradition, in which we recognize important historical events, honorable leaders and steps towards collective change. Encompassing Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday weekend and all throughout February, the Library champions Black history, culture and heritage with programs spotlighting Black authors, artists, makers and movers. This celebration is titled More Than a Month in an effort to emphasize that reflection, open dialogue, interdisciplinary education and shared advocacy needs to take place in our communities during Black History Month, as well as all year round.

About San Francisco Public Library

San Francisco Public Library is dedicated to free and equal access to information, knowledge, independent learning and the joys of reading for our diverse community. The library system is made up of 27 neighborhood branches, the San Francisco Main Library at Civic Center and four bookmobiles. To learn more, please visit and follow on Twitter @SFPublicLibrary and on Instagram @sfpubliclibrary.

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Jaime Wong   she/her/hers

Public Relations Officer | San Francisco Public Library

100 Larkin Street | San Francisco, CA | 94102

(415) 214-2279 (cell)

January 21, 2021