Usually 5:30 a.m. phone calls aren’t great, but for Jasmine Warga it turned out to be one of the best of her life. The Naperville author was honored with a Newbery award by the American Library Association for her novel “Other Words for Home”.
“I’ve pretty much been on and off in grateful tears since then,” said Warga. “It still feels really stunning to me. I remember running my fingers through over the stickers on the books that I’ve read when I was kid, so I’m still kind of in a state of complete shock and so much gratitude for the committee.”
Newbery Honor Changes Lives
The excitement for the Cincinnati native’s award was on full display by an Ohio school she visited in the fall. It’s that type of excitement that will change Warga’s life as oftentimes teachers and librarians recommend Newbery books to read.
The novel, geared for middle schools kids, is about a Syrian refugee adjusting to her new life in the U.S. It’s the third book the 31-year-old has written, but was delayed a season because Warga re-wrote it at the last second.
Other Words for Home Makes History!
One of four Newbery honorees this year, Warga’s book made history as it was the first time the sticker went to a book with a Muslim protagonist and the first time it’s been received by an Arab-American.
“I think for so long children of color in this country haven’t gotten to see themselves as the heroes of the story,” said Warga. “Seeing myself, or a girl who looks like me [says] to me ‘you can follow your dreams and you can be the protagonist to your own story’”.
Warga is working on her next book called “Shape of Thunder” set to publish next year.
Naperville News 17’s Christian Canizal.
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