A conversation with author Jason Reynolds


Cecily Spence, Managing Editor

New York Times #1 best-selling author Jason Reynolds walked out onto the Flynn stage on October 5, amidst a roar of applause from the BHS freshman class. BHS’s Esther Lokossou ‘26 and Victoria Tornwini ‘26 had the honor of interviewing him alongside three other student representatives. 

Photo: Cecily Spence

To prepare for the event, Tornwini and Lokossou met weekly with the other representatives to discuss and compile questions. 

“We tried to prioritize which of the questions we wanted to ask and which questions we thought the audience would most want answered,” Tornwini said. 

The large audience gave them some nerves as 1200 people gathered at the Flynn.

“As the hours [until the show] began counting down I was like, ‘yeah, yeah this is a big deal,’” Tornwini said.

Reynolds’ commitment and passion for working with youth were reflected in his language. 

I experienced a true moment of power, that, ‘oh, I have this language, and this language gives me power and it can affect other people’s lives.’

— Jason Reynolds

“I liked his responses, when he speaks I feel like he is rapping, it’s very engaging,” Tornwini said. “He found a way to connect [his responses] to the youth and people watching him.”

Lokossou agreed, commenting on his colorful narratives and antidotes. 

“I thought there may be more ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers, but he really went into depth and brought deeper meaning.”

After the show, the student representatives got the chance to connect with Reynolds backstage.

“He told us how amazing we had done and told us that he liked all of the questions,” Lokossou said. “We also talked and took photos together which was really fun.”

Photo: Cecily Spence

Reynolds is currently the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and travels the country having meaningful discussions with youth. Reynolds recounts stories from his childhood from a reluctant reader to an award-winning poet and author. Reynolds spoke about finding his passion for language through a piece he wrote that was printed on his grandmother’s funeral program. 

“All my family read it and everybody was like, yo, I read that thing you wrote and it made me feel better,” Reynolds said. “For a lot of kids, especially younger people, you never feel like you have any power, and so I experienced a true moment of power, that  ‘oh, I have this language, and this language gives me power and it can affect other people’s lives.’”

Reynolds openly shares how his writing is inspired by real childhood events.

“Basically all my books are telling you all my business, all of my childhood stories,” Reynolds said. “I got older and I was like wow, I have thousands of stories to tell, and so all of [my writing] is affected by my childhood.” 


Cecily Spence