Children’s Institute Presents Keynotes on Joy and Music

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At the 2021 Children’s Institute (Ci9), held virtually from August 30, to September 1, attendees tuned in for two keynote presentations: an opening keynote with Nicola and David Yoon, and a closing keynote with Hanif Abdurraqib, Tiffany D. Jackson, Jason Reynolds, and Tami Charles.

Nicola and David Yoon during Ci9's opening keynote

During Ci9’s opening keynote, Nicola and David Yoon focused on the joy of creating and consuming stories, and the ways they wanted to make a difference in the publishing industry. They also shared the inspiration behind their new imprint, Joy Revolution, which is “a celebration of love stories written by people of color about people of color.”

When they first met in a writing workshop at Emerson College, in Boston, the two bonded over their love of rom-coms and wanted to see more that centered the lives of diverse characters.

Twenty years and many long talks later, Nicola Yoon pitched an idea for an imprint to Penguin Random House in the summer of 2020. Now, the first titles are scheduled to be published in fall 2022.

Watch a recording of this keynote, focused on love and joy and on writing that features characters exploring the breadth of their humanity, on the Education Resources page on

Ci9 closing keynote with Tami Charles, Hanif Abdurraqib, Jason Reynolds, and Tiffany D. Jackson

Hanif Abdurraqib, Tiffany D. Jackson, Jason Reynolds, and Tami Charles discussed the impact music has had on their lives during the closing keynote at Ci9.

The panelists kicked off their keynote by sharing their memories of the first moment they fell in love with music, talked about the influences of hearing what music their parents listened to, and discussed the emotional experiences of hearing artists like Whitney Houston, The Temptations, Bruce Hornsby, and Nina Simone.

Music, said Reynolds, is an essential connection to his family and the people he loves. Jackson added that it’s a love letter, a love language. And Abdurraqib said it’s an act of lineage building — it reminds him that people have been doing the work he has for generations, that there’s a record of it.  

Watch a recording of this keynote, which digs into song lyrics and the books and music each panelist would recommend to young readers, on the Education Resources page on And listen to this playlist on Spotify, which includes all the songs mentioned throughout the talk.