At the foundation of He Continues to Make a Difference is Lesléa Newman's award-winning OCTOBER MOURNING: A SONG FOR MATTHEW SHEPARD. Watch the trailer and read below to learn more. 

By Lesléa Newman

On the night of October 6, 1998, a gay twenty-one-year-old University of Wyoming student named Matthew Shepard was lured from a bar by two young men, then savagely beaten, tied to a fence on the outskirts of Laramie, and left to die. Five days later, Lesléa Newman arrived on campus to give the keynote speech for the University of Wyoming’s Gay Awareness Week.October Mourning is Newman’s deeply personal response to the events of that tragic day and its brutal aftermath. This work of poetic imagination explores the impact of the vicious crime through fictitious monologues from various points of view, including the fence to which Matthew was tied, the deer that kept watch beside him, and even Matthew himself.This stunning cycle of sixty-eight poems serves as an illumination for readers too young to remember and as a powerful, enduring tribute to Matthew Shepard’s life and legacy.



Awards and Honors for OCTOBER MOURNING

  • Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) Outstanding Books for the College Bound selection (Literature and Language Arts category) 2014
  • Texas Library Association TAYSHAS High School Reading List, 2014
  • Featured Book, Diversity Author Series (Campus-Wide Read),  Lawrence Academy, Groton, MA 2013-2014
  • Finalist, Eliot Rosewater Indiana High School Award, 2014-2015
  • Nominee, Missouri Association of School Librarians Gateway Readers Award, 2014-2015
  • Finalist, New York State Reading Association Charlotte Book Award, 2014
  • Winner, Florida Council of Teachers of English Joan F. Kaywell Award, 2014
  • Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2013
  • International Reading Association Young Adults’ Choices, 2013
  • Massachusetts Book Awards “Must-Read” Book, 2013
  • American Library Association Stonewall Honor Book, 2013
  • American Library Association LGBT Round Table Rainbow Book, 2013
  • Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, 2013 (a cooperative project of the National Council for Social Studies and the Children’s Book Council)
  • Young Adult Library Services Association Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2013
  • The YALSA Hub Reading Challenge selection, 2013
  • Nominee, Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) Reader’s Choice List, 2013
  • Inaugural Shared Reading on Diversity Selection (Campus Book-in Common) Spalding University, 2012-2013
  • Nerdy Book Club Poetry Award, 2012
  • Poetry Foundation Children’s Poet Laureate Pick November 2012 (Chosen by J. Patrick Lewis)
  • Starred Review, Booklist, September 15, 2012


  • Young Adult Library Services Association Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults, 2013
  • Audiofile Earphones Award, 2012
  • Audie Award, Multiple-Voice Performance Category, 2013


Resource Downloads

OCTOBER MOURNING Teacher Guide for All Poems

Bring Lesléa Newman to Your School