Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

Thursday, February 17, 2011

From the teen's perspective

A few years ago, the Children's Book Council formed a committee of industry superstars and began to develop CBC Forum events. The events have been panel presentations featuring experts on topics of interest to the children's book publishing community. This evening we hosted a Forum event that we called "From the teen's perspective". Our panel, moderated by Carol Fitzgerald, the founder and president of The Book Report Network, included Sara Shandler, VP and Editorial Director of Alloy Entertainment,  BrookeTarnoff, Senior Editor of MTV's, Sabrina Rojas Weiss, Editor,, H. Jack Martin, Assistant Director for Public Programs and Lifelong Learning at The New York Public Library, Lisa Von Drasek, media specialist, academic librarian, and adjunct faculty member at the Bank Street College of Education's elementary school, Mitali Dave, blogger with YA book blog The Alley of Books and co-organizer of Teen Author Carnival (NYPL), Nicole Brinkley, blogger with YA book blog WORD for Teens and Zoe Himmel and Sofia Stafford, two teens from the Hewitt School who brought a sense of realism to the discussion. The panel was amazing and each panelist brought something different to the table. The CBC will summarize the event so you can read about it in greater depth on our website next week. Right now, though, I'm very proud of my team for helping to pulll this fabulous event together.

I am also proud of and grateful to the teens who participated on this panel. The teen bloggers (Mitali and Nicole) were incredibly well read and passionate about books. They are both in college now and aging out of their teenagerdom. By contrast, the two high school students, Zoe and Sofia, are immersed in theirs. Zoe and Sofia, two incredibly poised, articulate, intelligent and beautiful girls, reminded publishers that their time for pleasure reading is short but when a compelling book comes along, they'll find the time to read it. I'm so pleased they made the time to be part of the panel! Now it's back to publishers to figure out the best way to get the right books in front of the right kids. Listening to the two librarians on the panel, it was clear that the library system has always been an effective means of curating and communicating about books and that it's a system we need perhaps more than ever. As more and more books are being published, it's getting more and more difficult to find effective ways to raise awareness among young readers, particularly since so much shopping is being done online and online searchability is flawed. Librarians are key gatekeepers and parents, educators, booksellers, publishers and authors should do everything we can to support them.

Special thanks to Carol Fitzgerald for moderating so exquisitely tonight, to Mary Van Akin for her logistical and organizational expertise, to Amy Bowllan and the Hewitt School for bringing us two charming teens full of substance and insight and, as I always say, for incorporating trade books in classrooms the way it ought to be done, to our esteemed panel and to the Forum Committee. Thank you!

One of the panelists tonight was inspired by Mary Pipher's 1994 bestseller Reviving Ophelia, which shed new light on the problems of contemporary female adolescence. A younger Sara Shandler (she's still pretty young!) set out to give a voice to the real Ophelias, America's teenage girls.  Ranging from problems with body image and self-mutilation to difficult relationships with parents and other family members, to intense academic pressures, Sara compiled and wrote Ophelia Speaks, a book that is organized by subject and includes entries from dozens of girls across the country.The book was published in 1999, when Sara was in college. It remains relevant and resonant today.Several people have asked me if I would recommend a book about body image that they might share with their daughters and this is where I would suggest they start. The body image issue is a big one in the book and in real life. Some time soon I will devote a blog post to the subject but, for now, I offer a place to start.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Robin! Your 'roundup' on the Teen Panel said it all! I praise you for your efforts. Your leadership is the fabric for such beautiful tapestry that evolves from the CBC.