'May I have your autograph, R.L. Stine?'
New York Public Library draws teens to books
NEW YORK (CNN) -- How do you get a teen-ager to read? You could tape the book to the TV or computer monitor, but you may not get satisfactory results. The New York Public Library has figured out a way to get teen-agers excited about books with an annual exhibition and publication.
Since 1929, the Nathan Strauss Young Adult Center at the Donnell Library branch has offered teens the chance to mingle with authors that write books they like to read. Last year, more than 500 public and school librarians and teen-agers attended. At least 90 authors participated.
Marilee Foglesong, the coordinator of the young adult center, says that the authors are treated like rock stars. "We try to get the authors to really stand out" with various gimmicks and bright costumes. "There's lot of excitement" at the exhibition, she says.
This year's publication "The New York Public Library's 1998 Books for the Teen Age" features 1,000 titles and 66 categories. Nearly half of the books on the list are new. Authors of the newer books are invited to attend and their work is put on display. Librarians also get a chance to review and order new titles.
The publication is sold to school and public libraries all over the United States.
Teens drawn to reality-based books.
Foglesong says that she has seen an increase in teen reading. "The writing (in new books) is more realistic; it reflects the world around them." Recent books such as Robert Cormier's "Tenderness" seem to be evidence of this trend. The book is about a young girl who falls in love with a serial killer.
Brock Cole's "The Facts Speak for Themselves" gradually reveals a girl's rape as she recalls witnessing a murder.
Foglesong admits that the themes of these books could be construed as unsettling to some teachers and parents but says that the New York Public Library is more liberal and offers a choice to readers. She acknowledges that some books might not be included at other libraries or on some school's reading lists.
She says that the most popular categories are horror, poetry and historical fiction. While some topics may be gory or shocking, the goal of the young adult center is to foster the love for reading.
One of the ways that the library accomplishes this besides the annual publication and exhibition is by sending its young adult librarians into schools. They also hold chats with teens at the library to discuss new books. And it works. "Teens will become interested after they find out something about a book," Foglesong says.
Foglesong says that the reason teens are reading more is because author's have changed the way that they write. "They don't sugarcoat. They write about the things that are going on."
Sampling of titles from "NYPL 1998 Books for the Teen Age:
- "'Hello'" I Lied - M.E. Kerr
- "Completely Mad: A History of the Comic Book and Magazine" - Maria Reidelbach
- "Pastwatch" - Orson Scott Card
- "The Boy of My Dreams" - Dyan Sheldon, Ellen Thompson
- "Out of the Dust" - Karen Hesse
- "Neverwhere" - Neil Gaiman
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