Bestselling author of YA fiction and the Library of Congress’s National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, who recently coauthored Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, a history of racism for young adults
How do you like to express gratitude?
I really, really, really enjoy a good gushing. I’m the kind of person who likes to look you in the face, whether it be on Zoom or whether I stand six feet away, and just tell you how I feel. I think it’s important that we tell people we love them. I say it to kids all the time. Especially men, especially men, because men get so uncomfortable with it. Even if people are uncomfortable or stammer for a moment, they’ll usually return it.
What’s the most memorable thank-you gift anyone has given you?
Kobe Bryant sent me a pair of sneakers. This was a couple months before he died. He started a publishing company, he was trying to get me to work with him, and I didn’t have the time, but we stayed in touch. His daughter Gianna was a big fan. [The sneakers are] all gold. The Nike Air Max 1. All gold. The sole, the shoes, the laces, the toe box, the tongue. I’ve never worn them. I’ll never wear them.