Kaija Langley writes books for young readers and lives in Cambridge, MA
Why I Write
As an only child and social introvert, I was raised on a healthy diet of library books, gravitating always to books of poetry and stacks of Judy Blume novels and Nancy Drew mysteries. Writing for young readers is a natural outgrowth of my own love for books as a child.
Sadly, it wasn’t until I was a pre-teen that a family friend gifted me my first YA novel written by a Black author, featuring a Black family: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor. That was a true turning point in my evolution as a reader and writer, seeing young characters who looked like me, and families who looked like mine, on the page.
Representation matters as much now as it did when I was a child. I take great pride in being able to carry that torch forward for young readers today and in the future.
When Langston Dances
Langston likes basketball okay, but what he loves is to dance—ever since he saw the Alvin Ailey Dance Company perform. He longs to twirl into a pirouette, whirl into a piqué. He wants to arabesque and attitude, grand battement and grand jeté. When he walks, the whole street is his stage. With his neighborhood cheering him on, will Langston achieve his dream?
Illustrated by Keith Mallet.
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Kaija Langley was born and raised in Northern NJ and currently resides in Cambridge, MA. Her debut picture book, When Langston Dances, received two starred reviews (Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly). To date, the book has also won a BCALA Youth Literary Award for First Novelist, been named a New England Book Award Finalist for 2022, and been nominated for a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work for Children.
When she isn’t raising money and volunteering for non-profits with local and global impact, she reads and writes picture books and novels for young readers. Her debut middle grade novel, The Order of Things, is forthcoming from Nancy Paulsen Books in Spring 2023. Her second picture book, A Century for Caroline, with Denene Millner Books, is scheduled for Fall 2024.
She loves long road trips, dancing whenever music moves her, singing at the top of her lungs, and adventures near and far with her Beloved. For the latest on book news and upcoming events, follow her on IG and Twitter @mizzkalwrites71.
NAACP Image Award Nomination
When Langston Dances was nominated for the 53rd NAACP Image Award in the “Outstanding Literary Work for Children” category.
Two Starred Reviews!
“The absolute embodiment of Black boy joy, this is a beautiful and important book.”Kirkus Reviews
Read the full review on Kirkus Reviews
“Notable is Langston’s unwavering passion for ballet—and his mother’s just as steadfast support—in this richly affirmative picture book.”Publisher’s Weekly
Read the full review on Publisher’s Weekly Review
Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency
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