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Build Your Stack: Author Instagram Inspiration

This blog post is part of Build Your Stack,® a new initiative focused exclusively on helping teachers build their book knowledge and their classroom libraries. It was written by member Rachel Polacek.

 

When you’re scrolling Instagram, what do you look for? Do you like seeing authors interacting with and supporting one another? Are you interested in expanding your students’ reading lives by sharing your favorite authors’ accounts with them? Then you need to check out all the great YA authors on Instagram!

I have often used Instagram to find information about new books, awards, author tours, and more, and I’ve found that one way to intrigue middle and high school students to become invested in current YA literature is to have them follow these authors on Instagram as well! I’ve had conversations with students about something funny Becky Albertalli posted, or how some authors seem like they’re friends with one another because of the way they interact on social media.

Instagram has led students to explore new books and find connections beyond their current favorites.

In this list, I’ve included some of my favorite Young Adult authors to follow on Instagram and have highlighted at least one of their books that you can share with your classes.

Maybe after reading, your students will want to follow these authors, too!

 

Tahereh Mafi

I actually followed Tahereh Mafi, author of the Shatter Me series, on Instagram before I read any of her books. I was drawn to her phenomenal style and creativity, and kept her books on my GoodReads “To Read” list, however, I didn’t end up reading any of them until A Very Large Expanse of Sea came out.

This story follows Shirin as she navigates the challenges of high school while also being a hijab-wearing Muslim teen in the aftermath of 9/11. AVELOS (as Mafi often calls it) was a perfect “mirror and window” book for me (terms credited to Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop). It was a mirror because I was also a teenager in 2002, so many of the typical high school issues Shirin faces are incredibly familiar. It was a window because I did not have the experience of being a Muslim girl or wearing a hijab in the post-9/11 United States—plus I have no idea how to breakdance. Shirin’s powerful voice shines throughout this story, and I wish that when I was in high school, I could have had the gift of this reading experience.

 

Julie Murphy

Julie Murphy’s Instagram is like walking into a candy store—it’s so bright, colorful, and positive. She is one of those authors who is friends with others and helps to build others up. When Netflix recently released the film of her book Dumplin,’ she was constantly posting updates on filming and on her excitement over the release. Dumplin’ is a book that spoke to my soul, and I feel like it is a reflection of Murphy’s own persona. Willowdean is a strong, fierce main character who sticks up for others and doesn’t care what people have to say—she’s going to do what she wants. Murphy’s Instagram captures this same fearless spirit and is a joy to peruse.

 

Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli

Okay, I’m cheating by combining these two, but their Instagram accounts go together like peanut butter and jelly right now. My favorite thing about Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli’s posts is how much fan art they share! Their recent novel, What If It’s Us, has received a huge fan following, and deservedly so. It’s an adorable YA romance of missed connections, and the characters are so complex and likeable. The reader roots for Arthur and Ben to finally have their much-needed reunion after a chance meet-cute in a post office (complete with a flash mob!) at the beginning of the story.

 

Nic Stone

Nic Stone’s account is another style obsession—this woman’s lipstick collection alone rivals any Sephora store. A self-proclaimed Slytherin, Stone’s account is full of glamorous selfies (excluding her six-week stint of #nomakeup shots), with a mix of book talks and family posts sprinkled throughout. Her critically-acclaimed Dear Martin was an instant bestseller, and was a book I couldn’t keep on my classroom shelf. Stone brings history and current events together by paralleling injustice in elements of the Black Lives Matter movement to elements of the Holocaust. Dear Martin has Justyce and his classmates grapple tough topics and conversations, and does so with the messiness and care of real life.

 

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Last night was another one of those nights where you wonder if they’re sure they got the right guy. Sheesh. So much love and gratitude for being honored as part of the Frederick Douglass 200. I met and got to spend some time with Nettie Washington Douglass, who is the great-granddaughter of Frederick Douglass AND Booker T. Washington. Right. We shared time with the young people at @rosaparks_truthisreal, then she presented me and others with the award in the evening at the @libraryof_congress. These are some photos from the evening. Shouts to fellow writer awardees @jacqueline_woodson @lee_minjin and @officialsandracisneros. Yes, that’s Sandra Cisneros in photo #5! And to the incredible journalists and essayists nominated as well. And the activists, politicians, abolitionists, entrepreneurs, feminists, and diplomats. (Soo much brilliance in the room. Sheesh!) Truly an honor to do this work with y’all. Also, shouts to @ibramxk and the @antiracismctr, along with my homie @afrominimalist. Happy 201 Frederick Douglass. We still working. #thefd200

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Jason Reynolds

As you scroll through Jason Reynolds’s Instagram, you may notice some familiar and notable faces, including Jacqueline Woodson, Laurie Halse Anderson, and Nikki Giovanni. Reynolds is one of those authors who celebrates others and seems to be humbled by his own accomplishments. And he should be proud of those accomplishments—he’s published 12 books within the last few years! His entire library appeals to my middle school students, but a current favorite is the Track series, which was just wrapped up with the publication of Lu this past fall. The series follows four middle school kids—Ghost, Patina, Sunny, and Lu—as they navigate the challenges of life alongside high expectations of their track coach, and they find support in each other along the way.

 

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I’m ecstatic that THE ASTONISHING COLOR OF AFTER is a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize!!!!! And in some truly phenomenal company. If you also saw the news I posted yesterday…suffice it to say, I’m having an incredible week. ???? ✨ I really cannot fully express what all this means to me. I tucked my heart into this book and let it sail out into the world, and the world has been so incredibly kind. I’m ridiculously grateful to all my readers, to the awards committees who saw fit to give my book a nod, to my brilliant publishing teams, to my phenomenal agents, to my CPs, to the friends who have endlessly listened to me scream about the highs and bitch and moan about the lows. What a wild ride this is. ✨ P.S. The US paperback (pictured above!) is out March 19th and features an updated Author’s Note. ❤️????❤️????❤️????❤️???? #theastonishingcolorofafter #astonishingcolorofafter

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Emily X.R. Pan

The aesthetics of Emily X.R. Pan’s Instagram are incredibly striking to me, and they seem to reflect the beautiful magical realism of her first novel, The Astonishing Color of After. In this story, Leigh processes her grief after her mother’s death but keeps seeing something strange: a red bird, which Leigh is convinced is her mother. She travels to Taiwan, her mother’s birthplace, to visit her grandparents and try to solve the mystery of what her mother, the bird, is trying to tell her. Come to Pan’s Instagram for the artfully-arranged books, but stay for her photos in her cozy writing residency, fantastic clothes, and lovely artwork!

 

So what’s the point of getting online when you could just spend your time reading?

While I enjoy scrolling Instagram to see what my favorite authors are doing, I also love having the chance to add a YA connection to their scrolling. Instagram is an intricate web of talent and support, and you and your students may just be surprised by what you end up reading next!

 

Rachel Polacek (@rachelpolacek) is currently in her 6th year teaching 8th grade Language Arts in Dublin, Ohio. She aims to be a reflective teacher, which is one of the reasons why she loves writing about teaching. She is an avid reader who tries to consume a wide variety of literature and nonfiction, but her heart lies in middle grade and young adult fiction.