Busy Teens Want More Time to Read

Posted on October 10, 2000

Today's teens are very busy, but they would read more if they had the time, according to a Teen Read Week online survey conducted by the American Library Association (ALA) and Smartgirl.com. Teen Read Week 2000 runs October 15-21 and is sponsored by the ALA and the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of ALA.

Of the 3,072 young men and women surveyed (ages 11-18), nearly half (43 percent) said they enjoyed reading for fun, but did not have time to do so. The survey showed the Harry Potter series topped the list of favorite books for youth ages 11-13, and Stephen King titles topped the list for youth ages 14-16. Other favorites include: Chicken Soup for the Soul books, The Outsiders and Goosebumps series. Overall, mysteries are the most popular types of books, followed by adventure, horror and true stories.

Members of the ALA's Teen Read Team will tell you they read Harry Potter -- and all kinds of books. Sonya Soroko of Arlington, Va., just finished The Count of Monte Cristo. ``The Count of Monte Cristo was so awesome,'' the 15-year-old said. ``The author's writing style, the plot, and all the cool characters are totally worth checking out.''

Sammijo Ervin of Princeton, N.J., also enjoys classic literature like Catcher in the Rye and The Great Gatsby. ``You wouldn't think so, but some of these stories really relate to the type of issues today's teenagers have to face.'' Ervin encourages teens to go to the library and have their librarian recommend classic works of literature to read. ``They (librarians) were able to ask me the right questions and point me in the right direction,'' Ervin, 17, said.

``With all the things they are doing -- sports, clubs, after-school jobs and more -- today's teens are strapped for time and find it hard to set aside the time to read,'' said YALSA President Mary Arnold. ``We want to help change that. As librarians, we are trying to find creative ways to help teens find the time to read the books and magazines they want to read. We also welcome parents' and teachers' assistance in this effort.''

This year's Teen Read Week theme is ``Take Time to Read ... for the Fun of It!'' and hundreds of libraries are expected to participate. Creative programs abound -- from a ``Survivor Booklist,'' where books are voted off the list until only one is left; to teen poetry cafes; to book exchanges. ALA past President Sarah Ann Long also will visit model afterschool programs at libraries across the country as part of Teen Read Week.

Teen Read Week partners include the American Association of School Administrators, American Booksellers Association, International Reading Association, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Council of Teachers of English, National Education Association and TeenInk. Teen Read Week corporate sponsors include Barnes & Noble and Putnam Penguin Books for Young Readers.