Local lifestyle columnists

Who says teens don’t read?

By From page B5 | May 17, 2014

Over the last few years, both popular and scholarly presses have been filled with articles about how young adults are not reading anymore.

As far back as 2007, a USA Today story was headlined, “One in four read no books last year.” The National Education Association conducted an analysis of reading that indicated “Less than one-third of 13-year-olds are daily readers, a 14 percent decline from 20 years earlier. Among 17-year-olds, the percentage of non-readers doubled, from 19 percent in 1984 to 9 percent in 2004.”

If nearly all Internet surfing and social networking is text-based, how can this be true? In fact, it is not. Teens are reading more than ever before.

What earlier studies failed to consider is that books are no longer the only avenue for reading. Teens don’t just focus on print media (books, magazines, newspapers) alone. The increasing role of digital media in teens’ lives can be found in the 2007 Pew Research Center report, Teens and Social Media, which notes that 59 percent of young adults surveyed regularly participate in online creation activities – from reading, writing, and sharing fan fiction, to reading and posting to blogs, to remixing online music, images, and videos. When overall media use is considered and print media (reading) is included, researchers found that heavy TV watchers/computer users are also likely to be heavy readers.

A teen reads:

  • To become an expert. Whether teens are interested in stats or fashion, music or gaming, reading can help them dig deep into the subject.
  • To find a cause. Teens are idealists and often socially conscious. Reading can help them learn more about people and organizations that support the causes they believe in.
  • To get some life advice. Lots of popular fiction and films feature young characters with problems and pressures that must be worked through or overcome.
  • To develop a strong sense of self. The explosion (and popularity) of young adult literature whose characters are ordinary people caught in extraordinary situations tells us that teens gravitate toward experiences that call for loyalty, courage and honor.

At Solano County Library we applaud a teen’s forays into reading and believe every teen should have access to information in a variety of ways. That’s why we offer print, audio and digital (e-books) material as well as opportunities for teens to submit photography, art, poetry and creative writing for online posting.

The Fairfield Cordelia branch hosts teen book and teen writing clubs. A teen advisory board makes it possible for teens ages 12-18 to share ideas, plan library programs and earn school credit.

So teens do not experience the “summer slide” of learning loss, we host a summer reading program every year to engage young adults in reading and reading-related activities during the summer months. The Fairfield Civic Center branch, for example, is putting on a smoothie-making workshop for teens, an Inventor’s Lab workshop on circuitry, and a Game On! day. Many more events are planned.

“Spark a Reaction,” this year’s program begins June 9. For more information about “Spark a Reaction” for teens and “Fizz, Boom, Read” for children visit our website at www.solanolibrary.com or call 1-ASK-US.

Yvette Klemm is a Library Associate at the Solano County Library. She is currently reading the young adult series, “Daughter of Smoke and Bone,” by Laini Taylor.

Yvette Klemm


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