Through weekly after-school writing workshops, Beacon House teens work with Shout Mouse story coaches and Shootback photo coaches to create collaborative novels from multiple perspectives. Our projects help these teen writers to capture, create, and reshape their own stories, imagining for themselves and for their characters the futures they deserve.
The Day Tajon Got Shot has won two national awards in 2018 --the Foreword INDIES Book of the Year (Young Author) and “In the Margins” Book of the Year (for books appealing to at-risk teens)-- and was featured in School Library Journal as one of “10 Books to Read After The Hate U Give,” the most-lauded young adult novel of 2017. As well as being placed locally in every DC public middle and high school, this national attention has prompted over 1,300 educators, librarians, and booksellers across the country to order copies. Teen authors have been profiled on TV, radio, and in print, and are in demand as speakers, representing the youth voice in discussions about gun violence and #BlackLivesMatter.
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This is a powerful and unusual compilation of viewpoints about the intersection of race and criminal justice from the pens of these ten female teen authors. If it is not already, their conversation should be our conversation, as we support this new generation’s fight for civil rights in 21st century USA.
It is an ambitious, book told by multiple authors in different literary forms (Prose, tweets, poetry…) and POV from people all sides of the discussion. It is heart-stoppingly powerful in places and so very timely. Because of the multiple teen voices it also feels very present, in the now, as though I am on the street listening in on conversations. With such a charged topic they achieve that fine balance of the complexity of perspectives while honoring the loss of the innocent, and the righteous anger of the bereaved.
In all the pain of racial injustice and the call to social change, this book celebrates courageous writing, and the voice of teens everywhere. We need to listen to them. I look forward to more stories from this publisher.
-Joanna Marple, book blogger
When I opened the envelope and saw the book that I was to review, my immediate response was “yes.” The Young Adult novel, “The Day Tajon Got Shot,” is why I have been involved with Multicultural Children’s Book Day (MCBD) for the past three years.
The story, written during the onset of the “Black Lives Matter” movement, has the readers journey with Tajon on the day he was shot and killed by a police officer. Over eight days, we see the impact that the shooting has on Tajon’s family, his best friend, the police officer and his family, and the actual eyewitness. It highlights issues of race relations, domestic violence, drug abuse, and poverty to make us realize that everyone is impacted when a life is taken.
The collaboration between the coaches and mentors at Beacon House, Shootback and Shout Mouse Press, is an impressive model on how to provide children and teens a safe space and avenues to express themselves. As you turn the pages of the book, you can feel in their words, art work, poetry and photography that they have been empowered to share their voices in the midst of societal chaos. I love the way the book reads and feels like a graphic novel.
I would recommend this book as required reading for teachers, students, parents, community leaders, or anyone who wants to foster a conversation about strengthening their communities. After a destructive night protesting, Kayla, one of the characters in the book and who is Tajon’s best friend, realizes that anger may have gotten the best of her. She “decided to take the next sunrise as a rebirth, to show myself as someone who helps the community, not hurts it.” (page 61)
After reading the book, these young people have challenged me as writer to strive to always have my authentic voice on, so others can #ReadYourWorld and defy silence.
-Phyllis Cremer, reviewer for Multicultural Children's Book Day
So. Over the past few years we’ve had lots of great books come through the pipeline outlining and assessing moments of police violence, including The Hate U Give @angiethomas , Dear Martin @getnicced , Tyler Johnson Was Here @jaycoles, Anger Is A Gift @markdoesstuff, Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes, All American Boys me and @brendankiely and I’m sure I’m missing a few. But this one, The Day Tajon Got Shot, coming through @shoutmousepress has been written BY teen girls! I could go on and on about how cool, honest, and brilliant it is, but I won’t. Read the jacket copy. Lol. But the basic premise is, all the young people wrote a perspective to create a multi-layered view of an unfortunate incident. I know there are critiques about writing pain (in excess), specifically as it pertains to black children. But no one can deny the value of them using writing to work through their own, on their own terms. Shouts to Kathy Crutcher and the good folks at Shout Mouse for putting the pen, and the power in the hands of the kids. All the love.
-Jason Reynolds, award-winning and New York Times best-selling author of All American Boys, the Track series, Long Way Down, Miles Morales: Spider Man, and more.
I think this has been one of my favorite books in the past seven months, because when I picked it up to read, back in September, it was right before grad class and so good, I couldn't stop the sneaky reading throughout class. When class was over, I literally set in the parking garage and finished the story because I probably would have pulled off the highway to finish the book, I was so stoked. The hooks to this story hypnotized me!
This book is written by teens in the DC area who workshopped the first full-length novel published by Shout Mouse Press. I want their workshops and inspirations to continue endlessly, especially if they're going to produce such heartfelt and well-thought-out, emotionally searing works as this one.
While police brutality catches peoples attention, the young girls that wrote this book use the opportunity to get justice and stop police brutality.This is set by 2017 or even this year, The Day Tajon Got Shot is like being a witness of that day being told by these amazing storytellers and just the reality of the gun violence and with the timing like the other day the March for our Lives it puts me in the scene of just seeing something like this happen last year or even yesterday.