Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Helping Busy Teens Pause to Enjoy Some Good Books

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Helping Busy Teens Pause to Enjoy Some Good Books

Article excerpt

For high school senior Lindsay Ferrara, finding time to curl up with a good book can be almost as challenging as it is for Harry Potter to overpower the wicked wizard Voldemort.

Though Lindsay would like to peruse the popular series by J.K. Rowling, leisure reading takes a back seat in her tight schedule: An average day is filled with up to three hours of homework, classes, band, or indoor track practice. Not to mention spending time with friends.

But Lindsay, who lives in Stratford, Conn., says she loves reading and tries to squeeze it in. "I read before bed, in the hallways ... trying not to run into anyone."

High school's greater social and academic demands are key reasons why the American Library Association (ALA) created Teen Read Week, which started Oct. 15. Like Lindsay, teens say "fun" reading time dwindles when they leave elementary or middle school, as it competes with music, movies, and the Web. Many young people abandon reading altogether.

During this week, bookstores and libraries nationwide are hosting events to encourage young people to make time for perusing the latest books. Writings by Stephen King and John Grisham are popular teen choices. One goal is to show youths that not all reading is academic, says Mary Arnold, the ALA's president of young adult library services.

According to a 1999 survey conducted by SmartGirl.com, 43 percent of kids ages 11 to 18 said they like reading for fun, but just don't have time for it. When teens do read, two-thirds said they read magazines, which are easy to pick up and put down. Many also said they thought reading was boring or hard.

But educators say it should play a vital role in students' personal growth, both in and out of the classroom. Students who frequently read develop broader vocabularies and earn higher grades and test scores than those who don't. …

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