What is Alicia D. Williams reading?

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About Alicia

Alicia D. Williams is the author of Genesis Begins Again, which received the Newbery and Kirkus Prize honors, was a William C. Morris prize finalist, and won the Coretta Scott King–John Steptoe Award for New Talent. Alicia D also debuted a picture book biography, Jump at the Sun: The True Life Tale of Unstoppable Storycatcher Zora Neale Hurston. And then followed it up with Shirley Chisholm Dared: The Story of the First Black Woman in Congress. Alicia shares a passion for storytelling which stems from conducting school residencies as a Master Teaching Artist of arts-integration. Alicia D infuses her love for drama, movement, and storytelling to inspire students to write. She resides in Charlotte, NC.

As a writer, most times I read books for mentor texts. Rarely do I get to read for the simple pleasure of enjoying beautiful sentences or being pulled into lush worlds. But trust me, every single book is savored like a southern meal. I write children’s and young adult literature, yet I read a diverse genre of books.

I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem by Maryse Condé. Who hasn’t heard about the Salem witch trials? It was a delicious delight to order the story of the one Black witch that many fingers pointed to as the cause of the town’s mischief, but it sat on my shelf for months. Finally, I dusted it off and finished it. There isn’t much historical information about Tituba, so this story is Maryse’s imagination of who Tituba was and her journey.

A current reread: Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward is a masterclass in language. I’m marking up the pages as if I’m back in college studying character, backstory, metaphors, and similes. I am a huge fan of Jesmyn Ward (total fangirl, gah!). In this story, she infuses the setting so well that I could physically feel the humidity from the oncoming hurricane. So much longing and survival wrapped in her poetic prose.

Several books are always on my nightstand at any given time. Hey, I’m a Libra. Never know if I need a break from the current read and—bam, there’s the next one. So, it wouldn’t be surprising to know that I have books in the car too, especially for times when I’m early for an appointment. (Sometimes I’m purposely early to sit in my car, alone, for a quick escape.) My new escape read is Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue. Such a great start to this story of immigrants pursuing the American Dream with a promise of trouble and drama.

I read a ton of kidlit to stay immersed in the world that I write for.

My recent mentor text was Newbery winner Kelly Barnhill’s The Girl Who Drank the Moon. Kelly weaves a fantasy tale of an enmagicked little girl named Luna. It has wishes and hopes, grief and longing, corrupt people and the sweetest too. And the world building is thoroughly delightful.

I love folklore. Lately, I’ve been researching African American folktales. When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Kelly is based on Korean folklore. Tae tells a coming-of-age story of Lily and her family. Lily’s grandmother is sick, but according to the folklore: never make a deal with a tiger. To save Grandmother, a deal might have to be made. Yikes, is the tiger a trickster? What will happen? Ahhh, this tale was indeed worthy of the Newbery Medal.

My non-fiction read is High on the Hog by Dr. Jessica B. Harris. I was intrigued by the Netflix docuseries High on the Hog and ordered this gem. The docuseries tells the story of food from different parts of history as well as geographically, starting in Africa. It was only a small taste, and I was hungry for more. Dr. Jessica B. Harris goes into deep detail to answer the questions where the series couldn’t.

My TBR (To Be Read) pile

The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Daré, YA fantasy Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko, and Francesca Ekwuyasi’s Butter Honey Pig Bread. I’ve read many wonderful reviews and heard some by friends that these will be added next on my nightstand.

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