2021 National Book Award Winner Malinda Lo: "Don't Let Them Erase Us"

Malinda Lo's Last Night at the Telegraph Club won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature. In her speech, the author asked viewers to help ensure the stories of the LGBTQ community and people of color continue to be told and available in libraries and schools.

Last Night at the Telegraph Club has won the 2021 National Book Award for Young People's Literature.

In an emotional speech during the virtual ceremony on Wednesday night, author Malinda Lo thanked her parents and aunt, who helped with the parts of the book that were in Chinese; along with her editor, publisher, agent, and wife. She finished with this:

Malinda Lo. Photo: Sharona Jacobs

"One more thing—when my first novel came out in 2009, it was one of 27 young adult books about LGBTQ characters or issues published that year. This year, hundreds of LGBTQ YA books have been published. The growth has been incredible, but the opposition to our stories has also grown. This year, schools across the country are facing significant right-wing pressure to remove books about people of color, LGBTQ people, and especially transgender people from classrooms and libraries. I urge every one of you watching to educate yourselves about your school boards and vote in your local elections. 2022 is coming, and we need your support to keep our stories on the shelves. Don’t let them erase us. Thank you."

[READ: Reviews of the 2021 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature Finalists]

Last Night at the Telegraph Club was selected from a group of five finalists, which included  The Legend of Auntie Po by Shing Yin Khor,  Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff, Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People by Kekla Magoon, and Me (Moth) by Amber McBride.

Watch the entire National Book Awards ceremony below.

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Kara Yorio

Kara Yorio (kyorio@mediasourceinc.com, @karayorio) is news editor at School Library Journal.

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