Conor Grennan’s “Little Princes,” an account of the author’s trip to an orphanage in a war-torn Nepal and his efforts to reunite the children with their parents, has been selected as Virginia Tech’s Common Book for the 2013-14 academic year.

For the first time since the Common Book Project began at Virginia Tech more than a decade ago, the committee – which is made up of faculty and students – collected suggestions from the public online.

  • The committee received 180 recommendations.
  • Of those, the committee asked for volunteers from those who made Common Book recommendations to rate a total of 113 books. Volunteers included 29 undergraduate and graduate students, 10 faculty members, three staff members, and one alumnus.
  • Using the volunteers’ feedback, the committee narrowed the pool to 10 semifinalists and then two finalists, ultimately selecting “Little Princes.”

“The book resonated with the committee,” said Mary Ann Lewis, director of the Office of First Year Experiences. “We believe it transcends academic disciplines, cultures, and religious backgrounds while challenging students and faculty to think globally and to look for ways to make a positive impact here or abroad.”

The goal is for all students – from engineering to English majors – to discuss and learn from the same book, creating a common thread in the undergraduate experience.

“Virginia Tech is strengthened by its breadth and depth of academic offerings and specialties,” said Daniel Wubah, vice president for undergraduate education and deputy provost. “But we are even stronger when our faculty and students can build bridges between the disciplines. The Common Book Project is one way we are doing that through the undergraduate education experience.”

The Common Book is distributed to all first year and transfer students. Faculty members who teach those students are encouraged to integrate the Common Book into their curriculum through class discussions and projects. They may request a copy of the book by sending an email to

The Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research will host “Incorporating the Virginia Tech Common Book in the Classroom” workshops at the Inn at Virginia Tech and Skeleton Conference Center.

  • Wednesday, March 20 from 1-3 p.m.
  • Friday, April 5 from 2-4 p.m.
  • Tuesday, April 23 from 3-5 p.m.
  • Register through the Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research website.

“Little Princes” is the university’s eighth Common Book.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

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