1. He’s a “teen whisperer”
Time Magazine named John Green one of the 100 most influential people alive in their latest issue. In the article, he is referred to as a “teen whisperer.” Although the term may seem sarcastic, it is true that Green has a way with the teen population. His books are accessible, yet also demand something more from the reader. They don’t have all the answers and the stories are not tied up neatly at the end. Youth Librarians have the opportunity to form strong relationships with teen patrons by reaching out to them, challenging them, and helping them realize their potential.
2. Enthusiasm for Literature
John Green began his career writing reviews for Booklist. He had been there for “five years before [Looking for] Alaska was published” (Barkdoll & Scherff, 2008, p. 68). His enthusiasm for quality writing shines through in everything he does, including video book clubs and his Crash Course series on literature. In this way, John Green is not just a typical author who pushes his own work, he’s a book pusher in general, just like librarians. This book talk for Behind the Beautiful Forevers is a good example for his zest for the written word.
3. His DFTBA attitude
DFTBA stands for Don’t Forget to be Awesome and it is John Green’s motto. He encourages his followers (Nerdfighters) to be awesome, whatever this means to them. I think this is an important role for future Youth Librarians. Librarians were once seen as “the keeper of the keys” to knowledge, but that is a construct of the past. Nowadays, librarians don’t hand over information to patrons but rather show them how to get to the information they need. Likewise, teens don’t need us to tell them how to be awesome, we just need to encourage them to grow and flourish in their own ways. John Green’s desire to inspire teens to be awesome reminds me of a letter from Kurt Vonnegut, who wrote to high school students advising them to use art to “experience becoming…make your soul grow.”
Barkdoll, J.K., & Scherff, L. (2008). “Literature is not a cold, dead place”: An interview with John Green. English Journal, 97. Retrieved from: http://www.academia.edu/335874/Literature_is_a_cold_dead_place_An_interview_with_John_Green