Picture It: Teen Read Week™ !

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By Katherine Vasilik, (NJ) Public Library, member of YALSA’s Teen Read Week committee.

All are getting ready and putting on their best faces to celebrate Teen Read Week, October 16-22, 2011! This year's theme is Picture It @ your library®, and libraries and booksellers are encouraging teens to read graphic novels and other illustrated materials, to seek out creative coffee table and quirky pocket-sized books, or to imagine the world through stories and literature, just for the fun of it.  Libraries around the country are planning special events and contests, and are offering new and featured books and movies aimed at encouraging teens to read for pleasure, as well as to visit libraries for free access to reading and audiovisual materials.  Now is the time to find out how your local library is celebrating Teen Read Week and join in the fun!

The 2011 Teen Read Week spokesperson is Jay Asher, author of the bestselling Thirteen Reasons Why (and the upcoming The Future of Us, co-authored with Carolyn Mackler), and he’s helping YALSA to promote and judge the Teen Read Week Photo Contest!  This photo contest challenges teens to create an original visual version of a favorite book title.  Submissions should reflect the teen’s perception and creative interpretation of any book title — not a character or a scene from the story, but just the title alone!  All entries must be uploaded to Flickr by October 31, 2011.  Read the official rules and an entry form (PDF) for the contest. For more about Jay Asher, check out his blog at http://jayasher.blogspot.com.

Many libraries throughout the country are planning photo, video, and animation contests of their own!  Plus, among the plethora of programming for teens, libraries like the Hardesty Regional Library in Tulsa, Oklahoma are featuring memoir-writing, using online tools to accentuate teens’ inner superheroes, creating print and web comic strips, highlighting collage and other art projects as forms of self-expression, and self-publishing original ‘zines.  Interactive events that could highlight Teen Read Week or be held throughout October include participation with Film Discussion Groups, based-on-the-book Movie Nights, or Google Art Tours using the Google Art Project.  The possibilities with Picture It @ your library® are limitless!

So, what does your community have planned?  See what libraries are doing in your area and across the country with YALSA’s interactive Google map, and if your library isn’t represented yet, make sure to mark your territory!

Your library might also be participating in the seventh annual WrestleMania Reading Challenge, an exciting aspect of Teen Read Week that is sponsored by YALSA and World Wrestling Entertainment.  The primary goal of the program is to reach reluctant readers and get more tweens and teens reading by implementing a reading incentive program that provides prizes from WWE as a reward.  This is a program designed to encourage tweens and teens to not only continue their reading beyond Teen Read Week, but to earn a reward for doing so by offering chances to win prizes donated by WWE.  This is a win-win situation for librarians and educators.  This year, for registered libraries, teens and tweens in Grades 5-12 could win a trip to WrestleMania XXVIII in Miami, Florida in April 2012!   Eligible teens must either design a bookmark illustrating an original slogan that promotes reading (Grades 5 & 6) or choose a WWE superstar and write a letter convincing him or her to read the teen’s favorite book (Grades 7-12).  For complete rules and details, check out www.ala.org/wrestlemania.

The esteemed Teens' Top Ten is also celebrated during Teen Read Week.  Teens’ Top Ten is a "teen choice" list, where teens nominate and choose their favorite books published during the previous year.  Nominators are members of teen book groups in sixteen school and public libraries around the country.  Nominations are posted on Support Teen Literature Day during National Library Week, and teens across the country are encouraged to vote on their favorite titles online each year during August and September; the 2011 winners will be announced during Teen Read Week.  In 2010, more than 8,000 votes were cast and readers selected Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins as the winning title.  More information about this list, a full listing of nominated titles, an acknowledgement of the involved teen book groups, and more are all available at www.ala.org/teenstopten.

Why is it important to celebrate? For a lot of reasons! Teens have so many options for entertainment, so it's important to remind them to spend time reading for pleasure: it's free, fun, and can be done anywhere! Research shows that teens who read for fun have better test scores and are more likely to succeed in the workforce. Also, it’s a great chance to let your school or your public library communities know how important teen services are. Let teens know the possibilities that exist within your doors, and within the covers of books.

About Teen Read Week
Teen Read Week has been an initiative of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), since 1998.  For more information about Teen Read Week, please visit www.ala.org/teenread.  For more information about YALSA or for more recommended reading and listening, check out The Hub, YALSA’s teen lit blog, to connect you to your favorite teen reads, or go to www.ala.org/yalsa/booklists.