Archive for January 2009

Beacon Street Girls Writing Contest

Beacon Street GirlsDo you dream of being the next Sarah Dessen or Meg Cabot? If fiction is your thing, this new writing contest is for you. B*tween Productions Inc., home of the Beacon Street Girls (BSG) book series and website for girls ages 9 to 13, just launched the BSG Young Authors Contest, an exciting opportunity for girls to apply their creativity and flex their writing muscles.

The BSG Young Authors Contest takes a story credited to one of the Beacon Street Girls’ main characters, Charlotte Ramsey, who needs help finishing her story “Orangina’s Travels” in time for her best friend Sophie’s visit from France. The best original ending will be published in the back of a new Beacon Street Girls book due in bookstores everywhere in the fall.

Here’s the nitty gritty: One winner will have her story ending published in book 16 of the Beacon Street Girls series. Just follow the steps below to enter:

1. Read all of Orangina’s Travels
2. Write your own, original ending of 600 words or less
3. Print out the Contest Entry Form and fill it out completely (don’t forget to have your parents sign the last page!)

Entries must be received by February 23, 2009. Complete rules can be found on the website.

Good luck!

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You Must Know About: City Year

City YearOne of my goals for Smart Girls Know is to highlight important organizations working with or for teens to create change. There’s no better example than City Year, an organization which brings together young people for a year of full-time service, giving them the skills and opportunities to change the world. Youth corps members serve as tutors or mentors in schools, run after-school programs, and lead and develop youth leadership programs to make a difference in the lives of children and their communities.

More than 1,400 young people ages 17-24 participate in 17 cities nationwide every year, and while participants are technically volunteers, City Year offers benefits such as:

  • Educational Stipend: Corps members receive an education award of $4,725 through AmeriCorps at the end of service.
  • Federal Student Loan Deferment: Student loans can be put into forbearance during the term of service.
  • Heath Insurance: Corps members are covered during active service.
  • T-Mobile Cell Phone: Corps member get a free cell phone and service for the duration of the service year.

Sound interesting? City Year is holding open houses throughout the U.S. on Wednesday, February 4, 2009 for people who want to learn more. Open houses will be held in Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbia, Columbus, Detroit, Little Rock/North Little Rock, Los Angeles, Louisiana, Miami, New Hampshire, New York, Greater Philadelphia, Rhode Island, San Antonio, San Jose/Silicon Valley, Seattle/King County,Washington, DC .

Or, visit the City Year website to find out more!

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What’s Your Mission? Seventeen Magazine Wants to Know

Seventeen MagazineIf you’re making powerful impact and changing your world for the better, share your story with Seventeen Magazine and be entered in their Mission Award Contest. You could win one of ten $1,000 scholarships!

To enter, upload two photos of yourself (a head shot and a picture showing you in action and illustrating your volunteer efforts), an essay about what you’re doing to make a difference in your school, your community, or your world (no more than 250 words), and either one newspaper clip about your achievements, a certificate of award, or one personal letter of recommendation.

Hurry…the deadline for entering this contest is end-of-day, February 2, 2009. For more details and to submit your entry, click here.

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Got Some Spare Jeans? Donate Them!

Teens for Jeans In the search for the perfect pair of jeans, who hasn’t acquired a pair or two that ultimately retreat to the bottom of the drawer due to their too-small pockets, too-low waist, or too-dark denim? Now you can make more room in your drawer while helping out a good cause by participating in Aeropostale’s annual Teens for Jeans campaign, hosted by Do

Last year, the national Teens for Jeans campaign collected over 125,000 pairs of jeans, which were donated to local homeless shelters and charities. Your imperfect fit can become another teen’s perfect solution.

To donate, drop off any pair of gently worn jeans to any Aeropostale store between January 26th and February 22nd, and they’ll take care of the rest. As a thank you, Aeropostale will give you an additional 25% off your next pair of jeans from the store.

To find out more about Teens for Jeans, and watch Gossip Girl heartthrob Chase Crawford in a special PSA supporting the cause, visit the Teens for Jeans website.

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Young Adult Books Honored by the ALA

ALAThe American Library Association, a.k.a. the ALA, just held its annual Midwinter Conference in Denver, and publishers and librarians alike gathered to talk what else…books. For children’s book authors everywhere, the highlight of the conference is the announcement of important awards in children’s and YA lit.

One of my favorite YA authors, Laurie Halse Anderson, was honored with the 2009 Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults. The award recognizes her outstanding lifetime contribution to writing for teens for her powerful novels , , and my personal favorite, .

Other young adult books recognized include:

  • , by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean – 2009 Newberry Medal winner
  • by Margarita Engle – Newberry Honor
  • by Ingrid Law – Newberry Honor
  • by Jacqueline Woodson – Newberry Honor
  • by Melina Marchetta – 2009 Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults
  • by M.T. Anderson – Printz Honor
  • by E. Lockhart – Printz Honor
  • by Terry Pratchett – Printz Honor
  • by Margo Lanagan – Printz Honor

Congratulations to Laurie and all the other recipients!

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Internship Opportunities at Teen Voices

Teen VoicesIf you live in the Boston area and want to learn more about the ins and outs of online and print magazine production, there are a number of internship opportunities currently available at teen magazine Teen Voices. Teen Voices is the original magazine written by, for, and about teens and young adult women. They offer an intensive journalism mentoring and leadership development program for teen girls, with a goal of “amplifying teen girls’ real voices in a world filled with too much media focused on what girls look like, not what they think.”

Internships are unpaid, but who needs money when you’ll be gaining a ton of experience in areas like: marketing, web and social media, art, photography, and much more. To apply, send your cover letter, resume, and writing samples to .

Good luck!

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Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

PersepolisOkay, I so know that I’m sometimes a little behind the times on things that are really cool…I freely admit that. So, please forgive me if this post is old news to you. But I just saw the animated movie Persepolis (2007), and it was so fantastic that I had to share.

If you don’t know about it, Persepolis is based on an of the same name, written by artist and writer Marjane Satrapi. It tells the story of Marjane’s life growing up during the Iranian Revolution, and touches upon issues like having friends and family killed because of their beliefs, growing up in a society where girls and women were treated very differently than their male counterparts, and finding a balance between speaking out against repression and staying alive.

The animation in the film, which was nominated for an Academy Award in 2007 for best animated film, is simply beautiful, and somehow makes the painful, and often sad, themes connect in a way that I don’t think live action could have pulled off.

If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend renting it or finding it on your DVR!

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Is Makeup Bad for Your Health?

When I was a teen, when and how much makeup I was allowed to wear was the subject of many a heated discussion between me and my parents. They wanted me to wait until I was 15 or 16, and I wanted to start in middle school, especially since it seemed like all my friends were wearing it. Today, girls are wearing makeup younger and younger, and, according to a recent article in the UTNE Reader, there may be very real, and very harmful, physical side-effects.

From the article:

“Scientists now suspect that chemicals found in many of the cosmetics for which young girls clamor contribute to a disturbing trend. Girls in the U.S., especially African American girls, are entering puberty earlier than their grandmothers did. Half of all American girls now show signs of breast development by age 10 (1 to 2 years earlier than 40 years ago), and a significant number show signs as early as 8 or 9.”

The article says that while there are very small amounts of toxins in makeup, using a lot of different products over a long period of time, especially when that time starts as early as 5 or 7 years old (seriously…that’s the target age for the Hannah Montana Backstage Makeover Set), can lead to early puberty, which then can cause things like: higher risk of breast cancer, higher risk of depression, being more likely to engage in drinking and unprotected sex, and affecting the brain’s ability to learn skills like playing an instrument or speaking a foreign language.

So what can be done? Get educated about what you’re putting on your face and body. And follow the lead of teen Jessica Assaf, who decided to become a makeup activist to educated other teens about the reality of makeup toxins and convince makeup companies to use safer ingredients. Check out Jessica’s organization, Teens for Safe Cosmetics, part of Teens Turning Green, to find out more!

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Girls Leadership Institute

Girls Leadership InstituteIt might seem like summer is a long way away, especially if you’ve been hit with the recent arctic freeze sweeping across the U.S. But it’s not too early to start thinking about summer camps. If you live in the Northeast and are interested going to a camp where you’ll learn more about yourself than you thought possible, become more confident, and get the skills you need to handle any challenge life throws your way, you might want to look into the Girls Leadership Institute (GLI) summer camps.

GLI was founded by author Rachel Simmons to help girls awaken to the full potential of their authentic selves. The camps, which are held in the Berkshires in Massachusetts, are geared for girls entering 6th grade through senior year of high school. And these camps aren’t just about making s’mores and singing Kumbaya (not that there’s anything wrong with that). GLI feature cool activities like ropes courses, hiking, drama, digital photography, cooking, filmmaking, debate, public speaking, Olympiads, Trips, Yoga, and much more.

Watch a short movie about the camps and find out more here!

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Teen Voices Interview with Poet Elizabeth Alexander

Elizabeth AlexanderIf you watched yesterday’s historic presidential inauguration, then you must have heard poet Elizabeth Alexander deliver her powerful poem Praise Song for the Day. My favorite phrase: In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

While I’m not a poet, as a writer I was struck by the fact that millions of people around the world were listening to her perspective, her choice of words, her unique voice. So I was thrilled to receive in my inbox this morning a note from Teen Voices saying 18-year-old Feature Editor Wilza Merzeus had interviewed Ms. Alexander last spring. Here’s the start of the interview:

I sat down with the nationally-renowned African American poet, essayist, playwright, and teacher Elizabeth Alexander. Ms. Alexander was born and raised in Washington, D.C. She is the author of four books of poetry, a book of essays, and a play. She is a professor of African American Studies at Yale University. Lucky for me, she was a fellow at The Radcliffe Institute in Harvard Square in the spring of 2008, so I had a chance to sit down and speak with her one-on-one about her life, her poetry, and her views on feminism.

Read the full interview at Teen Voices.

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