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Swarthmore Storytellers Swap Publishing Tips

By Sherri Kimmel


Susan Morrison (above, left) and Professor Donna Jo Napoli talked about their love of writing and their publishing success.

Among the highlights of the spring Alumni Council meeting was a lively panel discussion on writing for children and young adults. Donna Jo Napoli, professor of linguistics and author of more than 70 children’s books, shared thoughts on storytelling with co-panelists Josh Green ’92, an Alumni Council member, and Alumni Council President Susan Morrison ’81.

Green, a physician and Hawaii state senator, is the author of The Idea Man, and Morrison, professor of English and honorary professor of international studies at Texas State University–San Marcos, compiled Home Front Girl: A Diary of Love, Literature, and Growing Up in Wartime America, featuring the writings of her mother, Joan Wehlen Morrison. Most of the audience members were students interested in the children’s/young adult genres.

Napoli revealed that it took her 14 years to publish her first story. “There were a lot of pitfalls,” she said. “Everything that could possibly go wrong did go wrong.”


Josh Green ’92, a physician, state senator, and children’s author, came from Hawaii to the Alumni Council meeting.

Green noted that he never took an English course at Swarthmore but wrote his book “because I have a big imagination and just wanted to share my stories.”

Morrison, who majored in German and minored in English at Swarthmore, is a medievalist who wanted to bring her mother’s World War II–era journals to light to honor the oral historian who “believed everyone has a story to tell.”

During the April weekend, council members relished opportunities to mingle with students and hear a talk on the College’s sustainability efforts by Rachel Merz, professor of marine biology and author of Swarthmore’s Climate Action Plan; Ralph Thayer, co-chair of the Sustainability Committee and director of maintenance; and Benjamin Bernard-Herman ’14, a member of the student group Mountain Justice.

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