Kiara Garrett | Movers & Shakers 2018 – Innovators

When a prospective date asked Kiara Garrett to recommend a book, she suggested Junot Díaz’s This Is How You Lose Her. He mistakenly thought the collection offered relationship advice. Garrett told him, “If you liked Jay-Z’s album 4:44, then you would like this book.”
Kiara Garrett

CURRENT POSITION

Teen Services Specialist, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library (Imaginon), NC

DEGREE

BA, Library Science and Media, Ashford University, 2016

FAST FACT

Coleads her library’s minicon for teens to celebrate comics, gaming, cosplay, and more, which quadrupled attendance to 1,000 in its second year.

FOLLOW

@kiarareadthat on Twitter; threeninetyeight on Instagram

Photo by Douglas Gritzmacher

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Name That Tune—and Book

When a prospective date asked Kiara Garrett to recommend a book, she suggested Junot Díaz’s This Is How You Lose Her. He mistakenly thought the collection offered relationship advice. Garrett told him, “If you liked Jay-Z’s album 4:44, then you would like this book.”

Later she realized she’d stumbled onto a great readers’ advisory tool and began to match her favorite books with albums, creating the “If you like this album” book list. She paired 20 writers of color with hip-hop and pop culture artists, shining a spotlight on socially conscious books and albums.

Her initial Facebook post was shared 21,000 times. A month later, the book list was reposted to Twitter and shared another 23,000 times. “I was not expecting the list to go viral…or have such an impact,” says Garrett, who has had people tell her they have rediscovered reading for pleasure.

Her list caught the attention of Vibe magazine and other news outlets. However, her favorite feedback has been from high school teachers, who use the list in their classes or have incorporated Garrett’s approach into their curriculum.

Garrett is working on a second “If you like this album” book list and also has several themed book lists she plans to match with song playlists. “We work with a ton of teens of African American and Latinx descent, so I tend to recommend books to them that…they can relate to on a personal level, but also I believe that representation matters,” Garrett says.

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