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TCNJ hosts award-winning author who encourages middle schoolers to harness the power of reading

TCNJ welcomed more than 200 students from area middle schools to campus on Oct.16 to draw inspiration from author Jacqueline Woodson, the Library of Congress’s National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

Woodson’s program, “Reading=HOPE X CHANGE” asked — and encouraged — students to think about using the power of reading to change their future.

“When the world feels like it’s losing its mind, we can create a world where it isn’t,” said Woodson during her presentation.

Woodson, a four-time Newbery Honor Medalist, Coretta Scott King Book Award winner, and former Young People’s Poet Laureate, has written novels targeted toward children and young adults of all ages. Her 2014 book, Brown Girl Dreaming, earned the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and an NAACP Image Award for outstanding literary work.

The National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature raises national awareness of the importance of young people’s literature as it relates to lifelong literacy, education, and the development and betterment of the lives of young people.

“One of the best things we can do for kids is to inspire a love of reading,” says Suzanne McCotter, dean of TCNJ’s School of Education and member of the event’s Steering Committee. “We know it’s important to teach them to read, but if we really want to create readers, then we have to create kids who love reading and who are inspired by it and see the difference it can make in their lives.”

The on-campus event was the central hub of Woodson’s New Jersey outreach. Students and faculty from Grace A. Dunn, Rivera Community, and Hedgepeth-Williams middle schools in Trenton, and Fisher Middle School in Ewing attended the live event in Mayo Concert Hall. More than 60 public schools around the state participated remotely via a livestream.

Education faculty members Louise Ammentorp, Salika Lawrence, and Anne Peele, along with Emily Meixner from the Department of English and students from the School of Education, created post-presentation workshops for the middle schoolers to share their reactions and work on related projects.


— Sarah Voorhees ’20

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