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Wanted: Teens Reading at the Library

Special events are scheduled to encourage teens to visit Hennepin County libraries during Teen Read Month.

Do you have some “steampunk” books on your coffee table? Chances are, if you have a teen in the house, you do.

“’Steampunk’ is a fairly new genre that combines alternate history and low-tech machines that can do very high-tech things,” said Johannah Genett, Hennepin County Library program librarian.

Teen Read Month, which begins Oct. 1 at Hennepin County libraries, is a great time for teens and parents to learn about this and other recent teen reading trends, enjoy special activities, and make the most of their library’s teen resources.

Every year, the American Library Association’s Young Adult Library Services Association celebrates Teen Read Week in October  “to encourage teens to take advantage of reading in all its forms — books, magazine, eBooks, audiobooks, and more — and become regular library users.” 

Nine special events are scheduled to encourage teens to visit Hennepin County libraries:

  •          Teen Read Month Art Exhibit by students from the Perpich Center for Arts Education
  •          Tronix Team Boombox, where teens can learn basic circuitry while modifying a regular lunch box into a fully functional boombox
  •          Make a Mask, three fun workshops where teens can create their own unique Halloween masks
  •          Anime Music Video, three workshops teaching how to organize clips and synch with music to make basic anime music videos
  •          Open Mic Poetry Night, where teens will get together with other teens to read their own poetry or favorites by other poets, or simply sit back and enjoy listening to poetry

For the complete schedule, go to www.hclib.org and click on Events & Classes at the top of the page. In the search box on the right side of the page, type Teen Read Month.

Also during Teen Read Month, teens’ overdue fines (up to $10 per teen, grades 6-12) will be deleted. Fine waiver forms will be available at all Hennepin County libraries (Penn Lake, Roosevelt and Walker will be closed in October). And teens who have lost their library card may receive a free replacement (usually there is a $1 charge).

What else is happening for teens at Hennepin County libraries? Homework assistance is available free at Homework Hubsat 11 libraries. Go to www.hclib.org/homework for locations and schedules. Also, receive homework help online from Homework Rescue Online Tutoring, accessible at www.hclib.org/homework. Tutoring is available in English and Spanish.

Teens are a vital force at Hennepin County libraries. So far this year, more than 600 teen volunteers have donated more than 9,500 hours to the Library — helping out at library programs and doing behind-the-scenes work, including serving as members of an advisory team for the TeenLinks website.

Hundreds of teens chat it up at dozens of book clubs in the summer and year-round. Teens who love to read are contributing their own book lists to the Library’s TeenLinks web pages: http://www.hclib.org/teens/read.cfm.  Teens who enjoy anime (Japanese animation) and manga (Japanese graphic novels) get together throughout the year to see and share new titles at Anime and Manga clubs at many Hennepin County libraries.

But what if your teen is a reluctant reader? “There are many great, easy reads with teen appeal,” said librarian Genett. “Magazines, manga and comic books are always popular with teens.” For a list of easy reads, visit TeenLinks:www.hclib.org/teens/booklistaction.cfm?list_num=574 

Recent teen reading trends such as “steampunk” also may increase your teen’s interest in reading. Genett said steampunk titles include “Airborn” by Kenneth Oppel and “Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld. Dystopia and post-apocalypse books such as “The Hunger Games,” “The Maze Runner Trilogy by James Dashner and “Matched” by Ally Condie are popular, too.

How can parents encourage their teen to read more? 

“Set an example by reading yourself,” said Genett. “Furnish a variety of reading materials including magazines, newspapers, comic books and fiction and non-fiction books. Let teens pick out books that they are interested in and try not to criticize their choice. Suggest book titles that relate to your teen’s interest; for example, biographies of people they admire or books about sports they play. Read aloud by sharing interesting news items, letters or emails from relatives, or a favorite poem. Encourage them to join a book club.”

New technology —such as the easy accessibility and portability of eBooks — is creating reading incentive for both readers and reluctant readers.

“Teen ebooks are popular,” said librarian Wendy Woodfill in Collection Management Services. “There are four teen books in our top circulating ebooks:  ‘The Hunger Games,’ ‘Catching Fire’ and ‘Mockingjay’ (all by Suzanne Collins) and ‘Divergent’ (Veronica Roth).  There are waiting lists on each of these titles.”

“Dystopian tales, paranormal romance, and contemporary stories are the most popular” teen eBooks, Woodfill added. Currently, there are more than 2,600 teen eBooks in the Hennepin County Library collection.

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