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Recreational Reading for Teens

May 2nd, 2016 · Marilyn · Staff Recommendations

As a teen librarian, I am challenged in a special way. When I am in the teen area and ask a young person who is clearly looking for something if he or she needs help, the answer is predictably, “no.” Teens are notoriously monosyllabic and unwilling to be uncool enough to require assistance.

Therein lies my challenge. Sometimes I have to figure out what teenagers are reading –or want to read– through methods other than conversation! I scan the displays and empty spaces to observe which books are missing. Every time I enter the room I look at the “Graphic Novel/Manga” section to see what condition it is in. Books have usually been tossed around.

What moves? The Walking Dead, Star Wars, Spider-Man, Batman, Ms. Marvel, and Iron Man. So I order these. One recent browser did let me know that the section is “Marvel” heavy. Another young patron told me that “Superior Spider-Man” is not the “real” Spider-Man. I like to learn from my readers. Although this Graphic Novel/Manga section consists only of one panel of books—several shelves’ worth—it is a touchstone for the state of our teens.

What I see is that they are indulging in reading for fun. These books are their world, part of who they are. When young people come to the library and see that their books matter to us, they know that we value them. And I know that when students enjoy reading, they will grow as readers, and who knows where a love of reading will take them? Stories are important no matter how they look on the page. Patrons are important, no matter whether they speak up or not. They don’t have to say a single word.

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