Wednesday, October 19, 2011

teen read week

Happy Teen Read Week.

What are you doing this year to encourage teens to read?

Every year I have done something. Last year, many of you saw the artwork kids did for me, in which they explained the books they were reading. I showed these in various presentations I gave around the country, and it was really cool.

I found something out in working with the teens who contributed to my 2011 Teen Read Week project.

What I found out is this: Teens read a lot. They read a lot more than we think they do. Especially boys.

In a couple weeks, I'll be speaking with a group of guy authors at Mrs. Nelson's Bookstore in La Verne, California in a panel (which I named) called The Why Chromosome: Why Boys Really Do Love to Read.

I have found that there is this myth about boys and reading. The basis of the myth is rooted in some observable data, but the real message to boys regarding reading and writing is not. The message is: You are not welcome here.

Anyway, I will talk more about that on October 30, at Mrs. Nelson's. And I'll talk more about it here, too, in the days leading up to the event.

So, this year for Teen Read Week, I made a video of teens reading to and talking about books with other teens. It turned out to be a pretty amazing thing. I had many more kids participating than I thought I would. The majority of them happened to be boys, too. These kids were all reading books of their choice -- not ones assigned to them by teachers or required by classes. The range of titles and genre breadth are pretty amazing.

There were so many kids I couldn't even put them all in the video. Video editing is a chore. Good thing I am not writing.

I don't know what I'll end up doing with the video. I was thinking I'd bring it along with me to NCTE/ALAN next month in Chicago. Maybe I will post it here.

The thing that strikes me most about it (and you'll have to forgive me if I get a little gushy here) is how beautiful and brilliant these kids are when they've got books in their hands; when the books they're reading are expressions of their freedom to choose; and when their friends actually listen and maybe even write down titles and authors of books they're hearing about for the first time from another kid.

I have said it before, and I know this is true: Kids today read much more than they did 20 years ago. And the boys are really starting to kick ass as readers.