Teens Can Feed Their Need to Read

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), June 28, 2006 | Go to article overview

Teens Can Feed Their Need to Read


Byline: Cheryl Stritzel McCarthy

It's summer, and the livin' is supposed to be easy.

For teens, that kicked-back feeling doesn't really kick in until early August. Summer activities are generally done then, and high school sports haven't yet begun.

For teens who want to read, now's the time.

These recommendations are gathered from Naperville teens as well as young-adult literature expert Ravi Shenoy of the Naperville Public Library and my experience as a reviewer of new YA literature for various newspapers.

Happy reading, whether you're heading for a hammock in the backyard or a blanket on Centennial Beach.

Mandy Grahn, a junior at Neuqua Valley High School, recommends "The Chronicles of Narnia" by C.S. Lewis.

"The older you get, the more you can understand," Mandy says of this can't-miss classic.

She also likes "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants," a current favorite by Ann Brashares about a group of high school friends who split up for the summer.

A longtime favorite recommended by my 16-year-old daughter, Victoria, is "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" by Betty Smith. The coming- of-age classic tells the story of Francie, a resourceful girl growing up in the slums of Brooklyn during the early years of the last century. Victoria also recommends, with reservation, the dark romantic novel "Rebecca" by Daphne du Maurier. She liked it, but her 15-year-old sister hated it.

What teens like to read runs the gamut, says Shenoy, who's based at Nichols Library in downtown Naperville.

"I'm astounded by the depth of their reading, some of them," she said.

Shenoy's recommendations include the following.

- "A Room on Lorelei Street" by Mary E. Pearson, ages 15 and older. Zoe, a rebellious 17-year-old with an alcoholic mother, breaks away from her dysfunctional family by renting a room from an eccentric landlady. Soon she's confronted by realities such as working as a waitress and trying to pay bills. Shenoy likes Pearson's spare, lyrical prose and realistic character portrayals.

- "Swimming in the Monsoon Sea" by Shyam Selvadurai, ages 14 and older. This story of friendship, set in the 1980s in Sri Lanka, provides a sensitive description of the relationship between two cousins. Its portrayal of a gracious way of life holds nostalgic appeal. …

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