Kelly Jensen works at the intersections of writing, censorship, mental health, literature, and feminism. She is a catalyst for change, a fierce advocate for teenagers, and a bold leader and teacher. She is a former teen librarian who worked in several public libraries before pursuing a full-time career in writing and editing. Her current position is with Book Riot, the largest independent book website in North America, where she focuses on talking about book industry news, publishing, libraries, censorship, and young adult literature in all of its manifestations. Previously, she worked in the swanky Texas Legislative Library entering data into a computer while surrounded by important politicians, scooped gelato for hungry college students, and spent hours reading, annotating, and scanning small-town Texas newspapers into a giant searchable database. Kelly earned the honor of being named a Person of the Year by Publishers Weekly in 2022, a Chicagoan of the Year by the Chicago Tribune in 2022, and a Free Speech Hero by the National Coalition Against Censorship in 2015.
Her books include Here We Are: Feminism For The Real World, a collection of art, essays, and words from over 44 voices. (Don’t) Call Me Crazy is a collection of art, essays, and words to launch a powerful and important conversation about mental health. It was named a best book of 2018 by the Washington Post and earned a Schneider Family Book Award Honor for distinguished representation of the disability experience. Her third anthology, Body Talk: 37 Voices Explore Our Radical Anatomy explores the physical and political nature of having a body.
She previously cohosted the popular YA book podcast Hey YA with Eric Smith and is currently a regular cohost on Book Riot’s All The Books podcast with Liberty Hardy. Kelly writes the twice-weekly “What’s Up in YA?” newsletter for Book Riot, which reaches 100,000 inboxes and she also writes the weekly Literary Activism newsletter for Book Riot, documenting censorship in America and galvanizing others to take action to protect their First Amendment Rights.
Her writing has been featured on Shape, Parents Magazine, Ms Magazine, Bustle, in Bust Magazine, at The Writer’s Digest, The Huffington Post, at Rookie Magazine, The Horn Book, BlogHer, School Library Journal. She contributed an essay and a guide to teen sexuality in pop culture for Amber J. Keyser’s The V-Word: True Stories of First-Time Sex and is the author of the book It Happens: A Guide to Contemporary Realistic Fiction for the YA Reader from VOYA Press.
Kelly lives in Illinois with her husband and her daughter. She also has a bunny and three needy-but-awesome cats. She is currently working on her masters in clinical mental health at St. Bonaventure University, focusing on serving adolescents; women, particularly in the perinatal period; and public service employees, marrying her knowledge and experience in libraries with the challenges faced by those working in public institutions.
In her free time, she is a 500-hour certified yoga teacher, writes for her personal blog STACKED (stackedbooks.org), volunteers for Young At Heart and is co-president of the Associate Board, drinks a lot of tea, and practices photography. Some of her favorite things include churro smashmallows, black licorice, adoring eyelashes on various animals (giraffes are the best, obv), spending too many hours in bookstores, debating the best seltzer in the world’s best secret seltzer Facebook group, and doing puzzles.
Kelly is happy to discuss possibilities for professional speaking, editing, and/or writing opportunities, in person or online. You can learn more about her, her background, and her passions in this interview.
Rights queries for (Don’t) Call Me Crazy and Body Talk can be directed to Tia Ikemoto at CAA. Rights queries for Feminism for the Real World can be directed to Kelly. Kelly is represented by Elise Howard at DeFiore & Company.
Kelly Jensen is an Editor at Book Riot, the largest independent book website in North America. She covers all things young adult literature and has written about censorship for nearly ten years. She is the author of three critically-acclaimed and award-winning anthologies for young adults. She was named a person of the year in 2022 by Publishers Weekly and a Chicagoan of the year in 2022 by the Chicago Tribune for her anti-censorship work. She has also earned commendation from the American Association of School Librarians for her censorship coverage. Prior to her work at Book Riot, she was a public librarian for children, teens, and adults in several libraries in Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin.