WOW Teen Reading Ambassadors

Worlds of Words Teen Reading Ambassador initiative offers high school students a college experience within the University of Arizona College of Education that focuses on books for teens. Ambassadors learn about young adult literature under the direction of faculty and staff with expertise in children’s literature, education, library science and marketing.

Teen Reading Ambassador George Ballenger introduces author Bill Konigsberg

Teen Reading Ambassador George Ballenger introduces Bill Konigsberg, author of The Porcupine of Truth.

This program positions local teens as reading ambassadors in their own schools. WOW Teen Reading Ambassadors interact with published authors of young adult literature, receive books by that author and share their experience with their peers to promote reading in their school communities. Copies of the books read by the ambassadors are also donated to the ambassadors’ high school libraries.

“Students accepted as ambassadors bring their enthusiasm for reading to a larger audience by talking about books in their communities and inviting other students at their schools to meet authors,” says Kathy Short, Professor in Teaching, Learning and Sociocultural Studies and Director of Worlds of Words. “Part of the value of young adult literature is its dynamic nature. The innovation and experimentation within the genre helps teens connect with the world through reading. In this way, teens involved with the initiative will be true ambassadors.”

This initiative offers teens a unique opportunity to explore books in ways they rarely experience in other contexts. Each book cycle occurs over the course of two months. Ambassadors first discuss the book and create plans for how to share it with peers. The next month, they host a free, public event with the author. Ambassadors receive a free copy of the books they discuss. WOW donates a second copy to the ambassadors’ schools. Students have created book displays, flyers, social media posts and other engagements to encourage their peers to read.

“High Schoolers who are interested in getting college experience or working with college professors should apply,” says Teen Reading Ambassador George Ballenger. She enjoys the literature discussions and appreciates the freedom she experiences in organizing and planning the author events. She says, “I like that we’ve held more of the power…. We are encouraged to do a lot by ourselves.”

Teen Reading Ambassadors with Alan Gratz

Teen Reading Ambassadors with Alan Gratz, author of Refugee.

“Joining the Teen Reading Ambassadors gave me the chance to meet other teens who were truly excited to read, and allowed me to share and discuss books for fun. I was exposed to stories that I had never considered reading, and discussing the books lead to more questions, making me want read and reread books for my own benefit,” says Teen Reading Ambassador Pilar Muller. “Being a Teen Reading Ambassador helped me gain confidence when talking to my peers, telling them about all the amazing books I read.”

Teen Reading Ambassadors' Grafitti Walls

“The teen ambassadors will experience a combination of book discussions and hands-on workshops to deepen their understandings and to learn ways to promote reading,” says Kathy Short, Professor of Language, Reading and Culture and Director of WOW. “Additionally, they will learn about the writing and publishing process as they meet the authors. In many cases, these students will be among the earliest readers of those books.”

“Students accepted as TRAs will bring their enthusiasm for reading to a larger audience by talking about books in their communities and inviting other students at their schools to meet authors,” says Short. “Part of the value of young adult literature is its dynamic nature. The innovation and experimentation within the genre helps teens connect with the world through reading. In this way, teens involved with the initiative will be true ambassadors.”

To become a Teen Reading Ambassador, students must complete the online application. Applications will be accepted through the summer each year with start dates in the Fall. Meetings typically occur from 10 a.m. to noon on one Saturday a month at Worlds of Words, 1430 E. Second St., Rm. 453. For more information on the Teen Reading Ambassadors or general information about Worlds of Words, email wow@email.arizona.edu.

YOUTH SAFETY
Worlds of Words follows University of Arizona policies regarding unenrolled minors. For more information about Youth Safety on the UofA campus, please visit the Office of Youth Safety website.