On Monday, author Kelly Yang spoke to fourth and fifth graders about her book, “Front Desk,” inspired by her childhood experiences living as an immigrant to the United States. The book has won wide praise and numerous awards, including the 2019 Asian Pacific American Award for Literature and a Parents’ Choice Gold Medal Fiction award.
Yang shared some of her own story of being a very young new immigrant who struggled with speaking English, as well as someone who began college at age 13. She also spoke about writing and gave students advice on why and how they should approach the process. Reasons she gave for taking up writing included the fun involved in creating worlds that the creator can control and the importance of good writing in the students’ future academic and professional lives. To become a good writer, she said, students should make an effort to write every day, spend lots of time reading, and learn to analyze books and movies. During the Q&A session, Yang revealed that Scholastic was the only publisher who accepted her book, and that even as a published writer, she experiences self-doubt. “Everyone does!” she said. “But the answer is to write for yourself and not others.”
“Front Desk” is one of the books that students are reading for the Tournament of Books, in which students vote on various books placed in a bracket to determine the winner at the end of the year.