I'd like to share a guest post by a colleague Sharon Levin on teens reading. It's a wonderful insight into how reading spreads like a wild fire, how a book catches the imagination of a group of kids, and how exciting a new release is. She wrote it last week following the release of Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins. Here's Sharon:
"Who says kids aren’t reading? I find myself constantly defending kids and their reading habits to adults who seem to feel that kids aren’t reading at all, distracted by texting, computer games, and really bad movies (really, Jackass 3D?!?!?!?).
Thirty five years after I was in junior high (go ahead, I’ll wait while you do the math) I am FINALLY cool to teens BECAUSE I read their books (believe me when I was an actual junior high student I was anything BUT cool). I find I can talk to almost any kid because I just ask them what they’re reading and then the conversation goes from there. I do not cut down their tastes (even if they’re reading Twilight, we are all allowed our ‘trash’ reading) and I love to hear how they view various characters and plot.
We know the stereotype of 8th graders: too cool for words, into fashion, video games, boys or girls and perhaps sports. Excited about a book? Nope, that’s not what we think of. Well, let me tell you about my morning.
Today, I paid a surprise visit to my daughter’s 8th grade Language Arts class (YES, I asked her permission first, so it wasn’t a surprise to her, just the teacher and her classmates). I had gone to Kepler’s (our local, independent bookstore) to pick up Mockingjay, the final book in Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy that was just released today (August 24).
I knocked on the classroom door and when I walked in, I didn’t say a word, I just held up the book and grinned. There was a moment of silence and the room just exploded. The kids who knew the book (about 85% of them) were going “Woo Hoo! No way!! I want it!!” as I handed the book to their teacher (it was a gift for her) who hugged it and said, “Mine, all mine.” (yes, she’ll share, but she’ll definitely be reading it tonight) The kids who didn’t know it were saying, “What? What’s happening?” Guaranteed, all those kids will be getting Book 1 today, in order to be in the loop. This is the closest I will ever get to being treated like a rock star (if you ever heard me sing, you'd realize why, even my rabbi wouldn't let me lead a round at my daughter's Bat Mitzvah and I don't blame him a bit). :-)
Of course, I also handed a copy to my daughter, so she can start reading it during SSR (Sustained Silent Reading) today (why else do you think she gave me permission to come into her class on the second day of school?).
I left with a huge grin on my face and realized that I had not said a single word while I was in the room. I didn’t have to, the book said it all."
Sharon is an incredible resource for parents, teachers and authors. She runs a children's literature email list which updates San Francisco Bay Area folks on upcoming events and releases. If you are interested in joining her list, email her at: sharonlevin(at)mindspring(dot)com.
I haven't had a chance to finish Mockingjay yet, but my favorite teen reviewer said that the ending just grabs you and won't let you go. It's a great choice for teens who like fantasy/sci-fi and adventure, but who also want to get into the emotions characters are experiencing.
Thank you very much, Sharon, for sharing your enthusiasm and insight.
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