Congratulations, John Green! (And Why You Need to Know This Name)

What’s the coolest thing about social media? We’d have to say it’s a toss-up between how it can:

  1. Turn awesome/inspiring/well-deserving artists and crusaders into superstars
  2. Provide a platform that harnesses the masses for massive social good

So that’s why we’re thrilled to highlight the announcement that bestselling YA novelist John Green will be awarded the Innovators Award from the L.A. Times Book Prizes. With his big talent and equally big heart, he’s proof of a new kind of role model that’s emerging online. And after exploring some of the potential pitfalls of misguided celebrity worship in this month’s issue of Choices? We’re loving every single minute of his time in the spotlight.

If you’re not familiar, Green wrote (among other novels) The Fault in Our Stars, which is perhaps the most beautifully balanced, sad-and-sweet, dark-and-funny book ever written about cancer. Whether you’re young or old, it’s already a classic, and it should be in your canon. But that’s beside the point here. With this honor, he’s mainly being recognized for the way he engages, encourages, captivates, and inspires his young readers and fans (lovingly dubbed “Nerdfighters”) on a daily basis. How, exactly, does he do it?

By vlogging, tumbling, and tweeting about issues that matter. By creating a community.  By challenging that community’s members to think deeper, be braver, and show more compassion. And most importantly, by taking his position at the top (and his visibility) very seriously.

So here are two great examples of how he’s making the world suck a little less. Check them out. Bookmark them. Share them.

  • Project for Awesome: Every December 17-18 since 2007, Green and his brother/vlogging partner, Hank, harness their huge online community, asking them to post videos advocating for the charity of their choice. Then, they harness that same community to donate to those charities. This year alone, they pulled in a whopping $400,000 in just two days!
  • On Middle School Misery: In this video, posted last November, Green opens up about his own experience with bullying. It is thoughtful and hopeful and inspiring all at once. (FYI: You can follow the link…or just watch it above.)

Pretty great, right? So on that note, we’d love to hear from you. Who are a few “non-traditional” celebs making a name for themselves as positive role models online? What traditional stars are using their social media presences for good? Think about the inspiring figures who are resonating with your kids—and tell us all about them.