Autumn Allen '18MA, '18MFA Selected as Associates of the Boston Public Library Writer-in-Residence

Simmons University proudly announced today that Autumn Allen '18MA, '18MFA has been chosen as the Associates of the Boston Public Library Writer-in-Residence for the 2020-2021 calendar year.

The Associates of the Boston Public Library’s Writer-in-Residence program is designed to provide promising and emerging writers with the financial support and space to complete a literary work for children or young adults. The Boston Public Library will host a virtual reception and reading with Allen and outgoing 2019-2020 Writer-in-Residence Shawnna Thomas on October 8, 2020. To register, visit the event webpage.

Allen, who is an educator, writer and children’s literature specialist, earned her MA-MFA in children’s literature and writing for children from Simmons University.

“I’m so excited and honored to be selected for the Writer-in-Residence program and to have the opportunity to shape the final draft of my young adult novel,” said Allen. “YA is an exciting age category because the audience is young people who build such strong connections with books – a connection that can last a lifetime. When you’re young, you often have a favorite book or series you connect with so much that you can read it over and over again.”

Allen’s work, All You Have to Do, is a young adult historical novel that she began during her time at Simmons. The idea for the book sprang from experiences in Allen’s family, and it tells the story of two generations of a Black, middle-class family in alternating narrative threads set in 1968 and 1995. The story follows a college student searching for his place in the Black Power movement by joining a student takeover on campus, and a high school senior who tries to change the culture of his prep school amidst controversy over the Million Man March.

During her time at Simmons, Allen had the opportunity to explore children’s literature, its role and its varying effects on young readers. As a children’s literature specialist, she has continued this work and her writings have appeared in a number of publications, including The Horn Book, BookPage and Kirkus Reviews. Allen is also a strong advocate for more diversity in children’s literature.

“It’s important to analyze the types of stories adults choose to share with children and why,” said Allen. “I’ve hosted many book groups and poetry readings and it’s always amazing to watch kids’ faces light up when they read a book written by someone like them and that features characters they can relate to. My book is a uniquely American story and I hope it’s a story that can add to these important conversations.”

Allen was selected for the Writer-in-Residence program among a pool of talented candidates by a panel of judges—including authors, young-adult editors, literary agents, and librarians—in a blind judging process, based on the strength of her young adult novel.

Allen received her BA in Literature from Yale University, and her master’s degree in Education from Harvard University. She currently resides in Norwood, Massachusetts with her husband and three children.

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