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Teachers & Librarians

Penguin Young Readers

John Green

John Green is author of the 2006 Michael L. Printz Medal winner Looking for Alaska, 2007 Michael L. Printz Honor book An Abundance of Katherines and the highly anticipated novel, Paper Towns. In addition to writing for teens, John has created the popular video series Brotherhood 2.0 (www.youtube.com/vlogbrothers) and an interactive community of fans who call themselves. Check out the Nerdfighters website at http://nerdfighters.ning.com and Johnís website at www.johngreenbooks.com. To bring Paper Towns to your classroom or book club, download a Paper Towns Discussion Guide.

If you are interested in having John Green make an appearance at a conference or other event, please use the online request form or email the Author Appearance Coordinator at authorvisits[at]us.penguingroup.com with possible dates, your school name, location, details about the day, and your contact information.

 

A Note From John Green:

Hello, librarians! Like you, I've seen the transformative power of books. I've lived it. And it's so fun for me to speak with young people at this critical moment in their lives about the centrality of literature to the human conversation. And of course I've always loved sitting in a roomful of librarians—no matter how big or small the room—and talking about books and teenagers and what we can do to bring them together.

Plus I live in Indianapolis, and—nothing against Indianapolis—it doesn't hurt for a guy to get out of the house now and again.

—John Green

 

Author Appearance Q&A with John Green:

Penguin: What is a typical appearance like with you?

John: At the moment most of my appearances are at conferences for librarians and/or teachers. I love to talk with teachers and librarians about the connections between books and other media, the unique power of text-based narratives, and the centrality of teachers and librarians in moving YA literature forward.

I also enjoy speaking to high-school students and occasionally college students. I like groups of all sizes, though—with a single classroom, I enjoy discussions about books (not just my own), and talking about the writing process in detail—even sketching out story ideas with the help of students. With larger groups, there's a much more performative aspect to my presentation—I show snippets of video from the vlog I make with my brother and talk about why I think books are still interesting in this media-saturated age.

Regardless of the group's age and size, discussion is a vital part of any presentation for me.

Penguin: What makes your author appearances unique?

John: I am aware of no other author who videoblogs, so I may have a unique understanding of the relationship between books and newer media. But really, it's all about my books. Laurie Halse Anderson's appearances are great because she wrote Laurie Halse Anderson's books. Unfortunately, I didn't write Laurie Halse Anderson's books, but I did write mine, and I think the books are always the foundation of a meaningful encounter with an author.

Penguin: Do you enjoy making appearances for adult audiences? What do you do when presenting to adults?

John: Yes, I speak at a lot of regional library conferences and to groups of teachers. This is hugely important work to me, because I believe so passionately in the power of teachers and librarians to shape both our literary landscape and our broader communities. Plus, it's fun to talk about YA books with other adults who are interested in teenagers and their reading choices.

Penguin:What can schools and libraries do to ensure a successful appearance?

John: The main thing is to have kids prepared. I think students get so much more out of a visit with an author if they've read one or more of the author's books. When I was a high school student, I had the opportunity to see Kurt Vonnegut speak—I still remember a lot of what he said (and it still influences my work), but the power of the encounter would have been greatly diminished if I hadn't known (and admired) Vonnegut's writing.

Penguin:Do you enjoy traveling to other parts of the country for appearances?

John: Well, I'm not going to say that I enjoy the actual TRAVELING. I enjoy airport pretzels, and I enjoy the fact that many of our nation's airports have excellent video game arcades stashed away in some obscure corner of Terminal D, but I would not say that I technically enjoy traveling. I do, however, love talking with librarians and teachers and teens about books and writing.

Penguin:Do you ever make appearances at more than one school in an area? Could schools and libraries from one area join together to bring you to their institution?

John:Yeah, that's definitely the best way to do it, both for institutions and for authors. One of the challenges of traveling is that one never wants to take too much time away from writing, and by bundling appearances together, institutions get more for their investment and authors can minimize the aforementioned traveling.

Penguin: What do you hope people will come away with from your presentation?

John: Regardless of my audience, I always want people to come away with a renewed sense of the importance of reading thoughtfully and critically. But with teens, I also want them to learn from having met me that writing is not an occupation reserved for old geniuses in ivory towers, that literature is not a cold dead place, that the classics they read and the contemporary fiction they read are all part of an ancient and important conversation about what it means to be a human in a world full of other humans, and that they, too, can participate in the conversation both as readers and as writers.

Penguin: What was your favorite/most interesting/most memorable appearance experience?

John: I have two: one with teens, one with grownups.

I did an event once somewhere in Texas where a large group of students had read "An Abundance of Katherines," which is a novel I wrote featuring a central character who is a semi-observant Muslim. There were about ten Muslim kids out of maybe 200 students in the audience. I'd never talked about Islam at a discussion before (and haven't since), but the questions were about nothing else. The book had become a kind of bridge between the Muslim students and everyone else, an opportunity to discuss religion and prayer and prejudice with each other.

A couple weeks ago, I was at a library conference in Portland, and I had the opportunity to speak with librarians about their importance in the history of YA literature and in its future, about their centrality to the conversation of literature in America, and about how we learn empathy as adolescents. I was reminded again of how outlandishly well-read librarians are in the discussion that followed, a wide-ranging meditation on books and what they can and cannot do in the lives of young people.

 

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