Author Paul Volponi Talks to Great Stories CLUB Teens

When author Paul Volponi learned that his book Black and White (Penguin, 2005) was included in the ALA Great Stories CLUB (GSC) grant program, he headed online right away to see how he could get involved. After finding the list of participating libraries, he contacted a few personally, offering to conduct conference calls with teens.

Two libraries have already taken advantage of his offer:

“The students at Demarest High School, an alternative high school in Hoboken, NJ, got a special treat when author Paul Volponi emailed their teacher, Ms. Kelly and offered to have a phone conference with her students. The phone conference happened a few weeks ago and the students asked a lot of questions about how he got ideas for his books. They shared their feelings about the characters in the book. He also shared with them the first chapter of his next book. It was a very successful and highly motivational encounter for the students, most of whom are very reluctant readers.”—Michelle McGreivey, Hoboken High School, NJ

“We had a similar experience here in Rockland County. We emailed Paul Volponi to see if he would be willing to have a telephone conference with us and the kids. He was most gracious and the kids loved the opportunity to speak directly to the author about his motivations for the story, the characters, his background, and how he got into writing. These boys are predominately reluctant readers and it was amazing to see how engaged they were when speaking with him.”—Claudia Uccellani, Nyack Library, NY

Through the end of May, Volponi is donating his time to participate in conference calls with teens and libraries that are conducting Great Stories CLUB programs. If you are interested, please contact him through his Web site.

Black and White is one of three titles on the theme “Breaking Boundaries” that young adults participating in the Great Stories CLUB are reading and discussing this spring. Great Stories CLUB programs are conducted by libraries working in partnership with a variety of nonprofit agencies serving troubled teens.

Resources to conduct Great Stories CLUB reading and discussion programs for troubled teens may be found on the GSC website. Available materials include theme-related reading lists, sample discussion questions, tips on establishing programming partnerships, recommended reads for librarians serving young adults with special needs, and more.

Applications for the next round of GSC awards, which include free books for teens and small cash grants, will open in September 2009. The Great Stories CLUB is funded by Oprah’s Angel Network, and conducted in partnership with the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA).