Who says urban teens don’t read?
To the contrary, a recent survey notes the teen book market is burgeoning; for evidence just go to several Atlanta-Fulton public area libraries – College Park, East Point, and Hapeville in the Tri-Cities area.
There teens and tweens stand and converse at the free Internet access computers, complete research for school projects, and study for college entrance exams such as the ACT and SAT.
Several years ago, the library seemed to be a drop-off or babysitting site; now librarians are kept busy keeping the inquisitive youthful chatter low and to a minimum. There is a resurgence in reading. The youth and teens feel they have a right to openly discuss recently retrieved books and articles at the library and access the most up-to-date printed and online information. Some are even interested in accessing archived information reflecting different genres and formats.
However, the best kept secret is their reading of literature: they love it, text it, do two and three way telephone discussions, or talk on Facebook about their new literary finds or book treasures from their personal collections.
The public library has become a second home. Books have become appealing again.
What are the newest and latest trends with youth?
“More than a building that houses books and data, the library has always been a window to a larger world, a place where we’ve always come to discover big ideas and profound concepts that help move the American story forward,” said President Barack Obama at an American Library Association (ALA) meeting more than three years ago.
Setting new trends, the youth (ages 12-18) have their own unofficial booklist or favorites.
According to the ALA, young readers are helping the Young Adult Library Services Association to become a well-liked and growing division. The teen market is an advertiser’s dream.
Although some urban teens do not always read the classics, they have embraced both fiction and non-fiction books. The diversity of their selections range from books which detail some of their real life experiences to other efforts which dramatize their fictionalized fantasies or mysteries.
Top 10 Urban Young Adult Book List
1. The Dairy of Anne Frank
2. The Secret Life of Bees
4. The Golden Compass
5. The Color Purple
6. The Count of Monte Cristo
10. Ask Me No Questions
The students are specific, definite and somewhat speechless about their favorite book choices. Erin Hill, 15, says she likes the number five choice, The Color Purple, “because it is very emotional and deep.” It was hard for Hill to describe her emotions when discussing her book selection.
The book favorites were not necessarily gender specific to teens. Jeremiah Bryant, 14, thought the world of his selection. I like The Diary of Anne Frank because “she (Anne) just tells it like it is and doesn’t hold anything back.”
Not necessarily an overwhelming favorite, this book seemed to be a “best read.” Everyone echoed the same comments on The Secret Life of Bees. Wishing to remain anonymous most teens said, “This book is real and weaves a wonderful story.”
The reading habits of urban youth should not be taken for granted because collectively, their voices are powerful. Their book choices have been made into movies including the recent big screen effort (Fall 2008) of The Secret Life of Bees.
They have influenced music and the fashion industry in the 20th century and this decade with their own self-conceptualization and sometimes lead indirectly with certain paradigm shifts.
Look at their reading habits more closely…
What’s next? Only the future holds the key. But the 2009 Grammy Awards recently demonstrated that music could transcend generations from the eldest to the youngest from Generation X to Y.
Maybe, the reading bug can be caught by all age groups and continue to create a village learning environment to nurture the next greatest writer, thinker or even presidential candidate.
President Obama should know.
He spent countless hours reading and studying at the library.