Boston Public Library
Children's Writer-in-Residence Program
Associates of the Boston Public Library
The Associates of the Boston Public Library sponsors a Children's Writer-in-Residence program annually. The program is intended to:
- Provide an emerging children’s writer with the financial support and office space needed to complete one literary work for children or young adults.
- Encourage the imagination of young readers, and in so doing draw attention to the importance of authors and the essential role they perform in nurturing developing minds and furthering our culture.
- Promote the awareness of the Boston Public Library and its resources, by establishing a living link between Library and the community.
2015-2016 Children’s Writer-in-Residence
The Associates of the Boston Public Library is pleased to announce that Jennifer De Leon of Milton, Massachusetts will be the twelfth Children's Writer-in-Residence. She was selected as the 2015-2016 winner by a panel of seven judges – including authors, young-adult editors, and children’s librarians – in a blind judging process, based on the strength of her submission entitled Volar.
De Leon is the editor of Wise Latinas: Writers on Higher Education. Her work has appeared in Ploughshares, Guernica, Poets & Writers, and elsewhere. Her story, “The White Space,” first place recipient of the Michael Steinberg Essay Prize and published in Fourth Genre, was listed as notable in Best American Essays 2013. A graduate of the MFA in Fiction program from UMASS Boston, De Leon currently teaches at Grub Street and the Boston Teachers Union School in Jamaica Plain.
De Leon will spend the fellowship writing Volar – the story of Liliana, a 14-year-old girl whose family moves from a working-class Latino neighborhood in Boston to an affluent, predominantly white suburb after her father gets a promotion. Liliana, who soon changes her name to Lili, tries to fit in to her new school and neighborhood. Adjusting to her surroundings, Lili learns to value her home culture while discovering her own path.
“There is something very special about Jennifer’s writing,” shared one of the judges. “How she captures a scene, a young-person’s thoughts, a description of a place—the reader is transported. We were captivated by this novel that takes place in Boston, written by someone who grew up here, presenting a young Latina’s experience as she comes of age. We can’t wait to see what Jennifer’s year means for her work and her future as a writer.”
De Leon remarked, "Walter Dean Meyers once wrote that he suspected his many readers found in the pages of his books a recognition of themselves, a validation of their existence, and an acknowledgment of their value by someone who understood who they were. With the generous space, time, and funds provided by the Associates of the Boston Public Library, I am eager to tell my story so that perhaps someday soon others can find something of themselves in my pages, too. This award gives me energy, encouragement, and hope. And I am so grateful.”
UPDATE: De Leon’s short story "Home Movie" was selected as the Boston Book Festival's city-wide One City One Story selection for 2015 and can be read online. She was also recently profiled in the Boston Globe.
The 2016-2017 application and guidelines will be posted in early 2016. The selected writer receives a $20,000 stipend and office space at the BPL's Central Library in Copley Square. He or she must work a minimum of 19 hours per week at the BPL during the nine-month residency (September through May). Projects eligible for this program are fiction, non-fiction, a script, or poetry, intended for children or young adults. Illustrations may be combined with any of these formats, but are not required. To be eligible, the applicant must be a US citizen and cannot have published more than three books to date.
Read about the program's prior residents.
The residency has enabled several talented children’s authors to launch their literary careers. Program alumni have published (or are in the process of publishing) eighteen titles! In 2012, the Associates’ very first Children’s Writer-in-Residence, Hannah Barnaby, published the book that she wrote during her 2004-205 residency, Wonder Show. Elaine Dimopoulos also published the book she wrote during her 2010-2011 residency, Material Girls, in May 2015. Anna Staniszewski has published multiple books, including most recently, I’m with Cupid (July 2015), and Power Down, Little Robot (March 2015).
For further information about the Children's Writer-in-Residence Program, this year's recipient, or about the Associates of the Boston Public Library, please contact the Associates' Office at 617-536-3886 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Associates of the Boston Public Library
700 Boylston Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02116