Library teams bring Native author to local teens & families

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Author looking at the camera and book cover of Harvest House side by side

Multnomah County Library's Indigenous and teen services teams will welcome acclaimed Native author Cynthia Leitich Smith (Mvskoke) to two high schools.

The Indigenous team includes library staff from multiple Native nations. Teen services supports all the ways the library works with teens, including connecting teens with authors whose work speaks to their identities and experiences. These two library teams created partnerships at David Douglas High School which has an Indigenous Student Union and McDaniel High School which has a student Indigenous Alliance to host author visits and book talks.

“I am excited to work together with students and Cynthia Leitich Smith. Our young people are a wealth of knowledge and inspiration. It is exciting to share new materials with our community and highlight such a well-known author. It is my honor and privilege to host this event, and I look forward to hosting more successful events in the future,” says Eva Red Bird, Indigenous community services coordinator at Multnomah County Library.

Students will gather to discuss Harvest House, Cynthia Leitich Smith's newest book. Her Author’s Note for Harvest House says: “On one level, it’s a contemporary young adult novel about a diverse group of teens coming together to solve a spooky mystery. On another, it’s about reclaiming the positive power of Story after it has been long buried and corrupted.”

Cynthia goes on to say that "for tens of thousands of years, Indigenous peoples have been storytelling peoples, and despite everything, our voices remain strong. The Native teen characters of Harvest House are storytellers in a myriad of ways—on the stage, on the page, through written and spoken language."

Beyond Cynthia’s visits with McDaniel and David Douglas high school students, she’ll be the featured speaker on the evening of May 24 at David Douglas’ Native American Cultural Night: Native Voices. This intergenerational event is free and open to the entire community. It will bring together students, families, community partners, and highlight the voices of Native teens.

The event resonates with Cynthia’s focus on community. In a 2021 interview in Publishers Weekly, Cynthia says, “I want to help build a community and to lift up voices, especially those that haven’t been heard.” Through collaboration and partnerships, that’s what we strive to do in the library as well.