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The National Book Awards Teen Press Conference

The National Book Awards

Middle and high school students in New York City were invited to participate at the Teen Press Conference presented by the National Book Foundation. Forest Hills High School students were given the chance to ask the National Book Awards finalists in the Young People’s Literature category some questions about their books. The Beacon was able to attend the conference held on the Upper West Side on Nov. 14, 2023. 

The National Book Awards (Nadine Jamora)

For us, these events are an honor to be a part of. Every New York City public school was able to receive free copies of one of the nominated titles which were signed by the authors at the conference. Forest Hills High School received “Gather,” by Kenneth M. Cadow, an emotional and ultimately hopeful story of a teen’s resilience and a community’s ability to unite in the face of unthinkable hardships. 

The trip was offered to students who are frequent library patrons. We met up at the library to check in with Mr. Hetko, librarian of Hills and Ms. McDermott, The Beacon’s adviser. We huddled in a circle, gave brief introductions about ourselves and a few words of what piqued our interest in the book. Before heading out, The Beacon asked students what they were most excited about. Sophomore Kathryn Naydenoba stated, “I’m excited to see if the author speaks the same way as their voice in the book.” 

Mariajose Valladares, a senior, said, “I’m excited to interact with the author. It’s pretty cool because not everybody gets that opportunity.”

Upon arriving at the conference, students received a special notebook that contained more information about the other titles and authors in the Young People’s Literature Longlist. The event buzzed with excitement and anticipation. All of the authors went on stage and gave a short reading from their books which was followed with cheers and encouragement from students from all over the city. The other finalists for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature were, “Huda F Cares?” by Huda Fahmy, “Bi,g” by Vashti Harrison, “The Lost Year: A Survival Story of the Ukrainian Famine,” by Katherine Marsh and “A First Time For Everything,” by Dan Santat. 

After the conference, Forest Hills High School students walked away with new knowledge and insights from the valuable educational experience. The students got to understand the world of literature a bit better. 

Manvir Baddhan, a sophomore, expressed, “It was nice to know that there are kids like ourselves who read books to understand the world. From [“Gather”], I learned that hard work pays off.” 

When asked how it felt to get their book signed, sophomore Eleen Chan was brimming with excitement and a sense of inspiration. “It felt very special because it was my first time getting a book signed by an author. After the event, I felt like I got to know the book and the author better. It was a very cool experience.” 

The Teen Press Conference presented by the National Book Foundation serves as a unique opportunity for young readers to connect and engage with their literary idols. Forest Hills High School students were, without doubt, incredibly grateful to have been a part of the gathering!

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About the Contributor
Nadine Jamora
Nadine Jamora, Feature Section Editor
Nadine is a feature writer for The Beacon's 2023-2024 school year. She is a senior in the music program. She is an Alto for the school's concert choir and is a student leader for Forest Hills High School's Filipino Club. What she enjoys most about The Beacon is the ability to explore and take on new challenges. Outside of school, she is an avid reader and writer.
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