By Megan P. Fink
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few are to be chewed and digested" Francis Bacon once said. The "monsterific" theme of 2008's Teen Read Week celebration as "Books with Bite," agrees with Mr. Bacon's suggestions as to how to devour books. Likewise, Teen Read Week offers libraries the opportunity to give teens a taste of reading delights that will have them chomping at the bit for the next book. Whether "Books with Bite" elicits images of the vampire we all love to read about Edward Cullen of the Twilight series, or graphic novels of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Teen read Week is the library marketing extravaganza to strut their stuff for teenagers.
Libraries have the challenge to market their reading abodes as exciting teen gathering places and highlighting their diverse collections. With all the digital delights that compete for a teen's free time, why not combine them for a make-your-own soundtrack to your favorite party. Book clubs and teen advisory groups can be an asset in promoting Teen Read Week celebrations at your library. Utilize the frequent readers and recruit new ones with a publicity campaign that gives testimony about reading for pleasure. Making a wall of students' book recommendations is like a real-life MySpace or Facebook page with their name and their favorite books to recommend.
Librarians cannot accept the doom and gloom reading forecast that predicts the end of reading as a cultural past time. However, we cannot ignore studies such as the "To Read or Not to Read" report by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2007 that discovered 15-24 year olds spend 7-10 minutes a day on voluntary reading versus the two hours a day they spend watching television (http://www.nea.gov/research/ToRead.pdf). These statistics are a contrast to the legions of fans across the country that attended the final Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows book parties last summer and the fanatical following of the Twilight series this year and its upcoming book to movie fandom. Such a publishing phenomenon will bring new readers into the fold and Teen Read Week can highlight read-alikes to those new converts to the reading past time.
As the song by Rascal Flatts goes, "Life's like a novel, with the end ripped out...", and while life goes on in ways we never expect, books give teens and their readers the consistent and secure feeling of escaping into another persona or adventure. During Teen Read Week, libraries showcase the endless opportunities for teens to read for the fun of it. There are a multitude of books to sink your teeth into for a delectable reading experience. Lure new readers to your library with contests, prizes and opportunities to encounter other memorable characters.
By Megan P. Fink