Lower School library students enjoyed virtual visits these past weeks from award-winning author Kelly Yang, who spoke with third- through fifth-graders about her book Front Desk.
“Front Desk ties into so much of what we are talking about in the Lower School, and in the wider world right now,” Lower School Librarian Lora Worden said. “Third graders learn about 'inside and outside' stories.' For decades, Front Desk was an inside story that Kelly Yang kept a secret, never as a child telling her friends that her family ran a motel and not even telling her own son until she decided to write this book for him when he was eight.”
Exploring "Our Nations' Many Voices," the theme of this year's OES READS program, Front Desk recounts the challenges that face Mia Tang and her family after they immigrate to the U.S. from China and begin managing a motel. Through her experiences at school and at the front desk of the motel, Mia learns to use the power of her voice and her writing to advocate not just for herself and her family, but for her neighbors and community members, as they confront discrimination based on race, class, and immigration status.
“We talk about the importance of students reading 'window and mirror' books, seeing themselves through and in the reflection of the books they read and also hearing about other perspectives,” Worden said. “The same is true for authors. Students need to see themselves in the people who are writing these books. Students need to know that everyone, whether that person is like them or not, has a valuable story to offer.”
Yang echoed this idea in her presentations to students, stating, "I hope we'll be able to enjoy all those stories that represent all the different paths of life."
Yang shared bits of her path, including experiences helping her family run a motel to becoming an award-winning author. She also gave students writing tips and encouraged them to dream big and to find their own voices.
When talking about the power of writing to change the world, she said, "You can write the world the way you want it to be." In response, Jillian M. ‘30 commented that "Even if [a book] doesn't change the whole world, it could change your world."
Yang encouraged our students to express their experiences and their voices when she ended the presentations with these words: "The world is ready and waiting to hear from you.”
Thank you, to Jennifer Green, owner of Green Bean Books, for helping bring Kelly Yang to our community!
Learn more about Kelly Yang and Front Desk: