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Cover of "Betty Before X"
By The Skanner News | The Skanner News
Published: 20 February 2018

Portland readers interested in Black history will have the chance to meet local author Renée Watson and win copies of her new middle-grade novel, “Betty Before X,” co-authored my Ilyasah Shabazz, at an intergenerational tea from 1 to 3 p.m. Feb. 24. The event includes a reading, book discussion, Q&A, and book signing with Renée. Conversations will center on girlhood, women's empowerment, and the inspiring legacy of Dr. Betty Shabazz.

This is a free event open to the public and space is limited. The first 50 guests 18 years old and under will receive a free, signed copy of the book. 

“Betty Before X” is a middle-grade, historical fiction novel inspired by the real life of Betty Shabazz, later known as Betty X.

The book illuminates four poignant years in Betty's childhood and paints an inspiring portrait of a girl overcoming the challenges of self-acceptance and belonging that will resonate with young readers today. The book has received starred reviews and high acclaim, including praise from Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who said, "Today is a time when fearless and uncompromising leadership is needed, and this story answers the call. It should be an inspiration and playbook to all women today, both young and old, who, like Betty, are paving their own path of strength.

Earlier this week Watson’s previous book, “Piecing Me Together,” was named American Library Association’s 2018 Coretta Scott King Book Awards  “Piecing Me Together” as well a Newbery Honor Book. The awards were announced this week at the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits, held Feb. 9–13, 2018, in Denver, Colorado, and presented in New Orleans at the ALA Annual Conference & Exhibition in June.

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards are presented annually by the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee of the ALA’s Ethnic and Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table (EMIERT) to encourage the artistic expression of the African American experience via literature and the graphic arts; to promote an understanding and appreciation of the Black culture and experience, and to commemorate the life and legacy of Mrs. Coretta Scott King for her courage and determination in supporting the work of her husband, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., for peace and world brotherhood. 

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