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GIVEAWAY ALERT: To celebrate the end of a remarkable year reading for change, we’re doing a very special giveaway package. Not only will the lucky winner get TWO signed mystery books (chosen from this year’s featured #ReadForChange novels), you’ll also get a signed copy of The Radius of Us and some great Novelly swag. Don’t know what Novelly swag is? Read on, readers for change! Giveaway info at the bottom of this post!
Looking Back, Moving Forward
In January of this year, I partnered with Teen Librarian Toolbox to make a commitment: every month, I would find and share the best-of-the-best YA & MG books that bring attention to important issues and causes, and I’d connect readers with the incredible people who write them. It’s been an amazing year doing just that! We’ve read such great stories as Nic Stone’s Dear Martin and Ibi Zoboi’s American Street, that take an unflinching look at race and identity in the contemporary United States. We’ve highlighted books like Jodi Lynn Anderson’s Midnight at the Electric and Joanne O’Sullivan’s Between Two Skies, both of which offer personal and gripping accounts of the real effects of climate change. We’ve had fabulous conversations with Lilliam Rivera and Ibi Zoboi about Pride, The Evolution of Margot Sanchez, and the effects of gentrification. We’ve looked with Alan Gratz and Jennie Liu at stories like Refugee and Girls on the Line, which bring our attention to the extraordinary obstacles faced by people on the move around the globe. And, we’ve had some unflinching real talk about what it means to be a feminist with Elana K. Arnold’s Damsel, Jennifer Mathieu’s Moxie, and Brendan Kieley’s Tradition. I hope you’ve all had as much fun as I have, learning from these remarkable authors about how they are working to change our world for the better. Each one of them has inspired me to take action, and for that I’m so grateful.
So, what’s next? I’m glad you asked! Yes, our year to read for change is coming to a close, but I’m absolutely thrilled to announce a new project that will keep the momentum going. Meet Anna Gabriella Casalme, the founder and executive director of Novelly. I’m honored to be a part of her group’s exciting new endeavor. Read on to learn all about it.
“A mission to Spark the Changemaker in Every Young Person.”: An Interview with Anna Gabriella Casalme
MARIE: Tell us about Novelly!
ANNA: Novelly is on a mission to spark the changemaker in every young person, one young adult (YA) novel at a time. With generous funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we are currently developing an interactive YA reading app that aims to critically engage teenagers in complex issues such as gender inequality.
MARIE: Can you share a bit about yourself and your background?
ANNA: I’m the founder and executive director of Novelly. I was born and raised in Los Angeles by wonderful Filipino immigrant parents. My mother was both a stay-at-home mom and businesswoman who was passionate about education. She walked us to the library almost every day after school, instilling in us a lifelong love of reading and learning. I later went to Stanford University to study Human Biology and Education. Most recently, I graduated from the University of St. Andrews, where received my MSc in Childhood Studies. I am thrilled to now be working on Novelly full-time!
My founding team members include Claudia Pacheco and Caterina Casalme, who have been with Novelly since the beginning. Claudia is my great friend and former co-worker, who is now a Health Educator at Para Los Ninos in Los Angeles. Caterina (Catie) is my younger sister, an insanely avid reader and an English student at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.
MARIE: How did you get the idea for this project?
ANNA: Since I graduated in 2015, I have been possessed by a simple idea: reading young adult (YA) stories can spark empathy and critical thinking among young people with regards to complex issues such as gender inequality. This, combined with open spaces for dialogue and opportunities to take action for young people, can spark social change. This idea came from my undergraduate honors thesis, which found that Wonder by RJ Palacio, a middle-grade novel, can generate thoughtful discussions on disability among middle school students. Later, this would become a side project that I started with my friends, whereby we conducted workshops using popular YA books, such as 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher, to talk about gender-based sexual violence and rape culture with high school students. I noticed how young people thoughtfully responded to the experiences of relatable YA characters, giving me immense hope and leading me to launch Novelly.
Want to learn more about Novelly and get involved? Anna has some great ideas:
As we start building our Novelly app, we need all the help we can get and we’d love for the #ReadforChange community to get involved!
Here are a few ways you can stay in touch:
If you’d like to join us, we are looking for:
- Youth designers(give feedback throughout entire app development process)
- Youth engagement officer(manage youth designers – leadership role)
- Curriculum advisers(help develop curriculum for YA book on the app)
- YA booklist advisers(choose YA books for app and Instagram)
- Social media gurus(help manage Twitter, Instagram, and blog)
If any of these opportunities speak to you or if there’s another way you’d like to support us that we haven’t come up with yet, please get in touch and feel free to email me directly and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Win our Novelly giveaway package!
I’m so thrilled to have been invited to work with Anna and her team as Novelly gets off the ground. To celebrate, I’m giving away TWO signed books from this year’s #ReadForChange lineup (which two will be a surprise!), my novel, The Radius of Us (signed, of course) and some great Novelly swag. Here’s a link to the giveaway. We’ll be announcing the winner on Twitter @MarieFMarquardt January 1!
Meet Marie Marquardt
Women’s March, January 21, 2017
Marie Marquardt is the author of three YA novels: The Radius of Us, Dream Things True, and Flight Season. A Scholar-in-Residence at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, Marie also has published several articles and co-authored two non-fiction books about Latin American immigration to the U.S. South. She is chair of El Refugio, a non-profit that serves detained immigrants and their families. She lives with her spouse, four kids, a dog and a bearded dragon in the book-lover’s mecca of Decatur, Georgia.
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About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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