Everyone Should Help With Teen Read Week
By DANNY TYREE
October 18, 2015
Teen Read Week is an annual celebration of reading coordinated by the Young Adult Library Association. It spotlights the myriad resources and activities available to help teens build literacy skills while reading for the fun of it.
Projects such as Dolly Parton's Imagination Library put books in the hands of young children, but it behooves the entire community to keep the momentum going through the tumultuous teen years.
Teens, don't obsess over being labeled "egghead," "bookworm," "nerd," "geek" or "weirdo." Keep enriching your brain and someday your taunters will be more likely to call you "sir," "ma'am," "boss," "your honor" or "Mr./Ms. President."
Tone down your preoccupation with texting and social media just long enough to make new friends in books. According to the latest research, Tom Sawyer practically never shared a friend's nude selfie with the entire world.
If you think of reading as a chore, just consider some of the menial tasks you'll be stuck with if you don't seize the opportunity to improve yourself. Avid readers can always take a break to enjoy fishing, shopping or a day at the spa — but non-readers can rarely fake their way into more cerebral social settings. Squirming as literary/current events references fly over your head — that's a real chore.
Don't complain about adults ignoring you or placing a low value on your opinions, if you've done nothing to improve your grasp of facts and logic. A resume filled with "hanging out" and a debate style sprinkled with "whatever" or "you're not my REAL mother" do not build confidence.
Parents, when you shoo your teens outdoors to "get some fresh air," remember that reading is one activity that can be enjoyed outdoors. Keep books high on the list of possible gifts. If your teens really, really hate reading, investigate to see if the cause is the aforementioned peer pressure, or perhaps a problem such as dyslexia or blurred vision.
Civic and business leaders, keep our libraries and literacy programs strong. Our workforce and electorate need young adults who can read directions, follow a task to completion, communicate clearly with supervisors and customers and exhibit imaginative problem-solving.
Friends, teachers and neighbors, if you know a teen who is taking on an adult load of responsibility around the house (because the parents are ill or perpetually stoned), don't let them become discouraged. Help them find ways to squeeze in reading time.
Librarians, keep helping teens learn that reading and their current passions are not mutually exclusive. Teens who are avid fans of four-wheeling, crafts, team sports or tattooing should be guided toward books and magazines that will help them enjoy those endeavors even more.
Publishers and booksellers, don't try to treat the nation's 42 million teens like a monolithic demographic that appreciates only a handful of bestselling genres. Offer new and classic books in every category.
Help the leaders of tomorrow enjoy a robust Teen Read Week. Open up New Worlds for teens. But watch out if -- in order to obtain a library card -- they must pledge not to corrupt, exploit or name sports teams after the indigenous peoples in those new worlds.
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