Teen Lit Superstars Invade Little Flower HS

Posted: February 25, 2014

WHEN 20 best-selling young-adult-fiction authors invade Little Flower Catholic High School for Girls to work with hundreds of book-loving students, Sister Kimberly Miller will see her dream fulfilled.

"When an author comes into Little Flower, he or she is like a rock star," Sister Kim said, which means that the 20-author Little Flower Teen Writers Festival, on April 26, will generate all the electricity of a Readapalooza.

"Reading has always been the heart of our school," Sister Kim said of the 600-girl Little Flower, on West Lycoming Street near 10th, in Hunting Park.

"Our main goal here is to create lifelong learners, and to do that means you read for pleasure."

Sister Kim spent seven years bringing her students into personal contact with the superstars of the teen lit world whenever they appeared at the Free Library of Philadelphia and at Children's Book World, in Haverford.

"I take nine girls to daytime events because that's what fits in the Little Flower van," Sister Kim said, laughing. "At night, I take five or six because that's what fits in the convent van. Of course, parents help, too."

Things took off big-time when Sister Kim befriended Matthew Quick, author of "The Silver Linings Playbook" - yes, that "Silver Linings Playbook" - and he talked to Little Flower students on career day, then continued the conversation on Twitter.

"The students feel like they're best friends with Matthew Quick," Sister Kim said. "I always tell them, 'Don't be afraid to tweet an author and tell them you like his or her book.' So they do. It's a thrill for them and I think it's a thrill for the author, too."

Little Flower students now have running dialogues with their favorite authors on Twitter and Facebook.

The public is invited to do the same every Tuesday night between now and the festival on:

Facebook: LFWritersFest

Twitter: @LFWritersFest

The festival itself is open only to Little Flower High students and all seventh- and eighth-graders in the area.

Sister Kim's festival co-host is K.M. Walton, author of "Cracked" - a bully and his victim confront their problems when they end up in the same psych ward - and "Empty," in which a self-hating teenager becomes addicted to her mother's prescription pain pills.

The festival's "rock stars" include Beth Kephart - whose award-winning "Small Damages" is about a pregnant teenager in Spain - who has blogged enthusiastically about her relationship with Little Flower students.

Kephart is among several Philadelphia-area authors coming to Little Flower. "We're definitely a city known for its authors," Sister Kim said. "I wish more people around here knew that."

Thanks to her, Little Flower students certainly do.


On Twitter: @DanGeringer

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