Starting on March 1, readergirlz founders Dia Calhoun, Janet Lee Carey, Lorie Ann Grover, and Justina Chen Headley will unveil a monthly book selection, featuring young adult novels with gutsy female characters.
More than just a book club, readergirlz aims to encourage teen girls to read and reach out with community service projects related to each featured novel. As well, readergirlz will host MySpace discussions with each book’s author, include author interviews, and provide book party ideas, including playlists, menus, and decorations. All content will be available through the readergirlz website (www.readergirlz.com), MySpace (www.myspace.com/readergirlz and groups.myspace.com/readergirlz), and Live Journal (readergirlz.livejournal.com).
“We want girls to be the best women they can be,” explains Headley. The inspiration for readergirlz came from Headley’s book tour last spring where she made a special effort to visit urban communities that couldn’t otherwise bring in authors. Headley spoke at November’s NCTE conference in Nashville and also attended a rousing session about teen literacy led by three librarians (Lois Buckman, Bonnie Kunzel, and Teri Lesesne). Inspired, Headley recruited three critically-acclaimed novelists—Calhoun, Carey, and Grover—to start readergirlz as a way to talk to teens about reading and writing.
“Readergirlz is a way I can connect wonderful books to girls I’d never be able to meet otherwise,” agrees Calhoun.
The founders hope readergirlz will change the way girls experience literature and see themselves. “I want to challenge girls to go for their dreams,” says Carey. “I learned how brave girls can be through books, and I want to share the power of literature with girls, wherever they are.”
Using MySpace and a website, the readergirlz founders, dubbed the divas, plan to provide a rich literary experience for teen girls online. “We already have over 750 friends on MySpace. From surveys to playlists to author interviews, we’ll provide young adult readers with fun, meaningful content,” explains Grover. “Why not harness the power of MySpace to get girls to think critically about what they want to be in the future?”
Each book selection will dovetail to a topic, identified by the readergirlz divas and prominent children’s lit bloggers as topics teen girls should know about in this millennium.
The first topic is Tolerance, a theme explored in the kick-off book selection for readergirlz, Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies). As prominent blogger, Jennifer Robinson of http://jkrbooks.typepad.com, noted, teens “need to know that when they are mean or intolerant to other people, they’re doing damage.”
In conjunction with the first novel, teen girls will be encouraged to visit www.tolerance.org to learn how to safely stop bullying and to apply for one of the organization’s Mix It Up grants to break social and racial barriers within their schools.
About the Readergirlz Founders
Dia Calhoun is the winner of the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature, and author of five young adult fantasies, including Avielle of Rhia and The Phoenix Dance.
Janet Lee Carey won the 2005 Mark Twain Award for Wenny Has Wings, and her forthcoming young adult fantasy, Dragon’s Keep, has already received a starred review in Booklist.
Lorie Ann Grover is a former ballerina-turned-verse-novelist whose acclaimed work includes On Pointe and Loose Threads, a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age.
Justina Chen Headley sold her first two novels at auction, including her debut, Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies), named Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best.
For more information about readergirlz, please visit their website (www.readergirlz.com), MySpace (www.myspace.com/readergirlz and groups.myspace.com/readergirlz), and Live Journal (readergirlz.livejournal.com).