January 1, 2008
An Open Letter to Readergirlz Around the World
When we started readergirlz way back in March on National Women's History Month, skeptics wondered: in today's world of IM, TIVO, and Guitar Hero, is reading even relevant to teen girls?
Well, if readergirlz is any proof, any indication, any sign of hope . . . YES, teen girls (and guys) are reading. Passionately. Deeply. And in droves. Let us tell you this. Not only are teens reading, they are also connecting books to their own lives. They are giving back based on what they've read. They are creating community. Just witness this: in ten short months, some 4,500 girls (and counting) have signed up for readergirlz. Girls around the world - from Kuwait to Kansas City - have flocked to readergirlz to chat with each other . . . and stellar authors, including all the ones who participated in our unprecedented 31 Flavorite Authors for Teens. These girls have cracked us up with their witticisms. They've humbled us with their support and insight. And they completely stoked us with their passionate love affair with story and words.
That's good news because more than ever our world needs teens - our changemakers of today and tomorrow - to be avid readers. When you think about it, critical thinking is a direct offshoot of critical reading. Filtering out insignificant details to distill the main issue is nothing but literary analysis. More than that, reading teaches us to forge hand-in-hand through difficult times with our characters, not to avoid tough situations. Reading teaches us to dwell with our thoughts, to contemplate - not just to chunk up our time with disjointed and frenetic multitasking. Reading wakes us up to the world with all of its problems and possibilities. And reading teaches us to hope. A community of critical readers, deep thinkers, and engaged global citizens is what readergirlz hopes to create for teens in today's world.
Don't listen to us. Listen to what the teens themselves are saying about reading at readergirlz in particular: “Kids need this. There aren't that many places where teens and adults get to discuss some of the very real issues of growing up in our society.” And this: “You guys are the main reason I even check my MySpace everyday because I can't WAIT to see what new topics we have. You guys make me feel so awesome about being who I am.”
And now we give you the Readergirlz Manifesta 2008. This is what we stand for. This is what we believe. This is what we promise teen girls.
New Girlz on the Block
To help us in 2008, we are increasing the readergirlz ranks.
Please help us welcome our newest readergirlz diva: the critically-acclaimed YA novelist Mitali Perkins (Monsoon Summer, First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover, and the forthcoming First Daughter: White House Rules). You may know Mitali through her popular blog (www.mitaliblog.com) that reviews novels with intelligence and passion, focusing on multicultural titles. We are so thrilled and honored to have Mitali join us.
In addition to our brilliant postergirlz - our advisory council of major children's lit bloggers - we have created a second group to help us run readergirlz. Please welcome our go2girlz, made up of three exceptional writers - Holly Cupala (winner of a 2006 SCBWI Work-in-Progress Grant), Sara Easterly (SCBWI co-regional advisor and Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award winner for her debut children's title, Lights, Camera & Fashion!) and Martha Brockenborough (hilarious Cinemama columnist on MSN, founder of the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar, and author of the forthcoming Things that Make us [SIC]). For more information, please see their websites: www.hollycupala.com www.saraeasterly.com and www.marthabee.com Our fabulous go2girlz will guarantee that readergirlz continues to rock and roll for you.
Thanks for making our 2007 a veritable pageturner. We hope 2008 will be revelatory. Revolutionary. And wholly revolving around words. So to the girl who wrote us on the last night of 31 Flavorites, "You're bringing me Stephenie Meyer tonight. Do you have any idea at all of how much I love you people? Monuments shall be erected in your honor!" - we say this: just you wait for 2008. (No monuments necessary. Just more books.)
To gutsy girls worldwide,
~ the readergirlz co-founders ~
Justina Chen Headley, Girl Overboard
Lorie Ann Grover, On Pointe
Dia Calhoun, Avielle of Rhia
Janet Lee Carey, Dragon's Keep