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Take time to celebrate Teen Read Week, October 15-21
Teens want time to read! Nearly half of those surveyed by The Young Adult Library Services Association said that although they enjoy reading, they don't have time.
Teens need more time to read! The International Reading Association says teens need "specific opportunities to schedule reading into their days."
If teens you know need help scheduling reading, now's the time: October 15-21 is Teen Read Week. This year's theme - Take Time to Read - provides the perfect opportunity to discuss books, and there are shelves of new books to recommend.
Know a teen interested in the latest scientific news? They'll be sure to make time to read two books due this month. Margaret Peterson Haddix's Turnabout is the story of teenagers, Melly and Anny Beth, who have lived over 150 years each. Once residents of a nursing home, they agreed to be part of an experiment on "unaging." The plan was for senior citizens to age backwards, eventually remaining 25-30 years old indefinitely, but the procedure didn't go as planned. Melly and Anny Beth find problems in getting younger, especially during the teenage years when they are trying to live independently. Searching for a family to adopt them before they become too young to care for themselves at all, they discover someone is searching for them. Turnabout is sure to spark discussions about aging and the problems facing each generation.
Blueprint, by Charlotte Kerner, is another discussion-sparker. Referring to herself as a blueprint rather than a clone, Siri is the offspring of Iris, a concert pianist seeking immortality after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. With the help of Mortimer Fisher, head of a reproduction clinic, Iris becomes one of the first self-generating single parents - or as Siri says a "mother-twin." Now 22, Siri copes with her mother-twin's death by writing a bitter memoir, confessing that the "most effective horror goes on internally."
Know a teen intrigued by adventures in worlds beyond our own? Plan time to read The Wind Singer by William Nicholson, an adventure set in Aramanth whose slogan is "Strive harder, reach higher, make tomorrow better than today." It's a city where testing begins at age two and results in individual ratings. The rating itself means nothing; it's improving that determines how families live. Kestrel's rebellion against this system causes her family's shunning and her assignment to "Special Teaching." Kestrel, her brother Bowman, and the lowest rated classmate, Mumpo, set off to find the key to the wind singer, a device that may provide a source of happiness.
Teens will find a different world in Eva Ibbotson's Island of the Aunts. Inhabited by unusual animals, the island is tended by three very unusual, aging women. Needing help with their hard work, each kidnaps a child. Two initially frightened children, Minette and Fabio, eventually enjoy their chores and new friends - the aunts, the mermaids, the selkie Herbert, the egg-bound boobrie. Then something incredible happens: they hear the Great Hum; and the third child, Lambert, finds his mobile phone and summons his father.
Based on an epidemic in Philadelphia over 200 years ago, Fever 1793 exposes teens to the hardships of living in a time that may seem like another world. From awkward low ceilings to the difficulty of fastening stays, from a cat devouring its prey on a new quilt to dogs barking and pigs running city streets, Laurie Halse Anderson takes teens into the life of Matilda, the daughter of a coffeehouse owner, during a time when a mysterious disease killed over 10 percent of the city's population in less than three months.
Carve teens some time for two books based on diaries of real teenagers facing the worst prejudice and persecution. Forgotten Fire follows Vahan, son of rich, well-respected Armenians living in Turkey in 1915, as his home shatters and he struggles to survive in a world set on his destruction. One Eye Laughing, The Other Weeping, the newest addition to the Dear America series, depicts the life of Julie Weiss, an upper-class Jewish girl in the Vienna of the 1930s, as her family's concerns shift from an eloquent dinner party to finding a way to stay alive.
Teens always find time to read about "outsiders." In Ghost Boy, Iain Lawrence's albino teen Harold Kline joins the circus freak show, and meets others more unusual than he. Though doll-sized Princess Minikin and Samuel, called Fossil Man, accept Harold as their own son, Harold soon learns he's as capable of cruel prejudice as those who gawk at them.
Richard Peck's A Year Down Yonder continues the story of Mary Alice. She begins her 15th year living with Grandma, feeling like the only outsider in a hick town a long way from Chicago. She dreads life among those who won't accept her and views Grandma with suspicion. By year's end, she dreads leaving the town and all its quirky inhabitants, feeling she "was one of them now."
Another continuing character is Jack Gantos's Joey Pigza Loses Control. Joey has gained control over his behavior thanks to a medication patch. Joey's mom is sending him and his Chihuahua Pablo to stay with his dad. There are two obstacles to an enjoyable visit: Joey's impulsive dad convinces Joey to stop using his medication and Joey's chain-smoking grandmother seems to resent him altogether, especially when the meds wear off.
Have I convinced you to celebrate Teen Read Week? Well, it's about "time"!
Jamie Whitfield has all the time in the world to read and write, now that she has retired from teaching teenagers.