(CHICAGO) Teens know the library is a place to go for help with homework and school projects, but the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) and thousands of libraries across the country are encouraging teens to think of the library as a great place for their leisure time, too. During Teen Read Week, October 16-22, YALSA encourages teens to visit their local school or public library to check out great books, CDs, DVDs or to log on to the Internet.
"We know that teens are short on free time," said YALSA President Pam Spencer Holley. "So we want to be sure that parents and teens know that it's important to use some of that precious free time for reading. With more than 5,000 new children's and young adult books published every year, the local library has something for every age and every taste."
While nearly three out of four youth ages 8 to 18 years old report that they read for pleasure in a typical day, the number is declining. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of 17-year-olds who report never or hardly ever reading for fun rose from 9 percent in 1984 to 19 percent in 2004.
Since its inception in 1998, Teen Read Week has focused on the importance of teen recreational reading. Teen Read Week's objectives are to give teens an opportunity to read for the fun of it, allow teens to select their own reading materials, and to help teens get in the habit of reading regularly and often. This year's theme, chosen by teens, is "Get Real! @ your library," and focuses on teens' love of nonfiction - from inspirational autobiographies to true crime.
The number of librarians and educators registered to celebrate Teen Read Week has more than tripled over last year, surpassing 4,800. Rey Mysterio(, World Wrestling Entertainment( (WWE) SmackDown!( Superstar and Teen Read Week spokesperson, will headline YALSA's Teen Read Week Celebration in conjunction with the Glendale (Calif.) Public Library, along with local teens and "The Brimstone Journals" author Ron Koertge.
"Reading helps me be more creative, it helps my imagination and I like the fact that it gives me some quiet time," Mysterio said. Some of his favorite books are the Bible, "Harry Potter" and "The Cat in the Hat."
On the opposite coast, the Harford County (Md.) Public Library will celebrate with a teen poetry slam and discussion of graphic novels ranging from "Death: The High Price of Living" by Neil Gaiman to "One Hundred Demons" by Lynda Barry. Teens at the Skokie (Ill.) Public Library will decorate their own pair of traveling pants while talking about the book and movie "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants." Teens also can vote for their favorite books during Teen Read Week by logging online and checking out recommendations from the Teens Top Ten: www.ala.org/teenstopten.
"Sssh is not in the young adult librarians' vocabulary," Holley said. "Libraries around the country are developing innovative programs and spaces to engage and better serve library users of all ages, often with teen advisory groups as our partners in change and growth."
YALSA, the fastest growing division of the American Library Association (ALA), is the world leader in evaluating, selecting and recommending books, audiobooks and DVDs for teens via its annual selected lists, three literary awards, web site and publications. Recommended reading, listening and viewing for teens can be found on YALSA's Web site at www.ala.org/yalsa/booklists.
Teen Read Week sponsors include: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; New Line Cinema, Harcourt Trade Publishers, Kids Can Press, Lerner Publishing Group, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, Holtsbrinck Publishers, Hyperion Books for Children, Marshall Cavendish, Orca Book Publishers, Teenreads.com, WWE and Pam Spencer Holley.
For more information on Teen Read Week, please visit www.ala.org/teenread.