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October 25, 2000


LA CROSSE, Wis. - How can young adult literature be used in the classroom to help resolve social problems?

That is the question being explored in a series of book talks that began in September and will run through April 2001. These free discussion groups, organized by Viterbo University Professors Grant Smith and Phyllis Blackstone, allow middle school educators, student teachers, education students, and parents to explore young adult literature with the help of young adult literature scholars from Wisconsin and Iowa.

The talks will culminate with a discussion and presentation on April 27 in the Viterbo University Recital Hall by young adult author Jacqueline Woodson, author of Lena, Miracle’s Boys, and Last Summer With Maizon. Woodson received the Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award for her novels From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun and I Hadn’t Meant to Tell You This. She has been a Fellow at the MacDowell Colony and at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Mass. and has worked as a drama therapist in a New York City residence for runaway and homeless children. She lives in Brooklyn.

"I have found the first two discussions to be energizing and provocative in a positive way," said Smith. "Parents always bring new and different insights to the book discussions, insights the educators sometimes overlook. Our goals are to introduce quality young adult literature to parents and teachers, and to suggest ways that the parents and teachers can use those books in their homes and classrooms to generate dialogue on social issues. The discussions are lively, informative, and very helpful."

All book talks are from 7-8:30 p.m. The book talk schedule is:

Date, time, location              Book                                                    Discussion Leader
Sept. 14                                  Speak, Laurie Halse Andersen             Grant T. Smith, PhD
Todd Wehr Library                                                                               Viterbo University
Viterbo University

Oct. 12                                   Walk Two Moons, Sharon Creech       Joan Simmons, PhD
Todd Wehr Library                                                                                UW-Oshkosh
Viterbo University

Nov. 9                                   When Zachary Beaver Came to             Phyllis Blackstone, EdD
Conference Room, Aud. A      Town, Kimberly Willis Holt                  Viterbo University
La Crosse Public Library

Feb. 8                                    Monster, Walter Dean Myers                 Laretta Henderson, PhD
Library, Lincoln M.S.                                                                               University of Iowa

March 8                                 InMy Hands: Memories of a               Tamara Lindsey, PhD
Library, Longfellow M.S.       Holocaust Rescuer,                                 UW-Eau Claire
                                                Irene Gut Opdyke

April 12                                 Out of Control,  Norma Fox Mazer       Nicholas Karolides, PhD
Conference Room                                                                                    UW-River Falls
La Crosse Public Library

April 27                                   Young Adult Author                                  Jacqueline Woodson
Recital Hall
Viterbo University

The book talks are funded, in part, by the Wisconsin Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Wisconsin Humanities Council supports public programs that engage the people of Wisconsin in the exploration of human cultures, ideas, and values. Seating is limited for the book talks so reservations are required. Persons interested in attending should contact Smith at 796-3485 or by email at

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