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What is Teen Read Week?

By K T Solis
Updated May 23, 2024
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Teen Read Week is a week-long celebration of teens and reading. The event was founded by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) in 1998. Teen Read Week is observed each year during the third week of October. For seven days, the library intensifies its efforts to encourage teens to read for pleasure. Reading for recreational purposes boosts test scores and lays the foundation for future success as an adult.

Public libraries schedule events in honor of Teen Read Week. Librarians who work with teens plan various activities in hopes of encouraging young adults to pick up a book for fun. Activities can range from simple programs to elaborate events featuring special guests and refreshments.

Some libraries host an open house for teens during Teen Read Week. During an open house, the young adult librarian may talk about services for teens, upcoming teen programs, and the collection housed within the teen department. Often, the library will serve refreshments and give away door prizes. Other libraries may use Teen Read Week as an opportunity to form a teen advisory board comprised of teen volunteers. The teen advisory board helps the librarian develop program ideas, brainstorm improvements within the teen department, and suggest new materials to add to the library collection.

Another potential activity for Teen Read Week includes providing a lock-in at the library. Teens spend the night in the library playing games, reading, watching movies, and eating snacks. The librarian and other library staff supervise the teens throughout the night and serve them breakfast in the morning.

Anime film festivals are other popular events during Teen Read Week. Many teens enjoy watching Japanese animation called anime. Libraries take advantage of this obsession with anime by hosting film festivals featuring the cartoons. The librarian will also use this opportunity to booktalk the various manga, or Japanese comic books, that the library has available for checkout.

If the budget permits, some libraries may choose to invite a popular author to the library. Authors who write books for teens can make a public appearance at the library, reading selections from their work, answering questions from teens, and speaking about the writing process. At the conclusion, the library can offer the author's book as a door prize to one of the teens in the audience. This is a good way to encourage teens to read for pleasure during Teen Read Week.

Teen crafts and gaming nights are two other options for libraries that want to lure more teens into its doors. Many teens love to create art, knit, draw, or make other types of crafts. Those who love to play video games will come to the library if it provides them with gaming opportunities free of charge.

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Discussion Comments

By croydon — On Nov 15, 2014

@bythewell - Teen read week and similar events help to normalize reading, particularly if libraries are clever with the marketing and event schedule to bring in diverse readers rather than just the usual bookworms. Graphic novels are an example of a niche that has fans that might not really consider themselves to be readers, but if they have events catering to them at this kind of festival, then they might start to see themselves more that way.

By bythewell — On Nov 14, 2014

@pastanaga - I think it's somewhat cyclic. The reason that there has been such a big push in the last decade or so of teenager getting into literature all comes from the Harry Potter novels and then the Twilight novels after that and both of those caused a rush of similarly themed books. I'd say The Hunger Games sparked the dystopian theme and there will be some other big breakout hit after that to inspire the copycats.

Anything that will get young people to read literature is good in my book though and there have been some amazing, experimental stories released for teenagers over the years.

I do wonder, though, whether these kinds of festivals really encourage people to read, or if they are just for the ones who already do read.

By pastanaga — On Nov 13, 2014

When I was a teenager I used to be very disappointed by the selection at my local bookstore and library and I'm thrilled that it seems to have changed now with libraries holding events like this. Teenagers are capable of reading "adult" books but it's nice to be able to see yourself in what you're reading, rather than an older character that you can't really relate to.

I do find it interesting that my favorites as a teenager in the 80s were dystopian and apocalyptic themed novels and that seems to be a major theme in YA again today. I don't know if that's because it's always going to be a strong theme for that age group or if it's a cyclic thing.

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