Angie Thomas | Empowering Youth Through Stories

Written by on June 25, 2024

Angie Thomas, Four-Time NY Times Best Selling Author, Empowers Youth Through Stories

Angie Thomas always knew she wanted to write for young people. Looking back on her childhood, the books that really impacted her were the ones she read as a kid. Her absolute favorite, “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry” by Mildred D. Taylor, made a deep impression. Set in Mississippi, it centered on a Black girl and her family—an uncommon sight in literature at the time. This representation sparked something in Angie, emphasizing just how vital it is for everyone to see themselves reflected in the stories they read.

As she grew up, Angie noticed there wasn’t much literature aimed at young Black girls. This gap in representation motivated her to fill it by writing the kinds of stories she wished she had growing up. She wanted to make sure that young readers, like her, could see their own lives and experiences mirrored in the pages of a book, much like she did with “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.”

Hip-hop also played a huge role in shaping Angie as a storyteller. It taught her the power of being real and true in her narratives. While books rarely portrayed kids like her or neighborhoods like hers, hip-hop artists did. They spoke about places and experiences she knew intimately, showing her that if they could share their stories authentically, so could she. Angie aimed to bridge the worlds of music and literature, showing young people the profound connection between the two.

Interestingly, Angie didn’t always realize she had a voice. Even after writing a book about finding and using one’s voice, she was still discovering her own journey of self-expression. Today, she understands the strength of her voice and uses it purposefully. Her ultimate hope is that her work inspires young people to create a world where her books become obsolete—a world where stories that once filled a void are no longer necessary. Through her dedication, Angie Thomas is truly shaping a brighter future for young readers, one story at a time.

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