Jessica Gaspard, a 15-year-old junior at Half Hollow Hills High School East, reads mystery and suspense books by authors such as Jodi Picoult and James Patterson, staying up late on weekends or fitting in a few minutes before her school bus comes in the morning. "It's better than TV," she says. "It feels like books have a greater message."
Toni Nicosia, 15, a junior at Half Hollow Hills High School West, says she's reading Marilyn Manson's biography. "It's like an escape," she says of reading. "Even if your characters in your books are having problems, you don't have to worry about it. They don't affect you."
Jessica and Toni - next week is for you, and all other teens who love the written word. "Teen Read Week" kicks off Sunday, an annual event of the national Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of the American Library Association. It encourages teens to "read for the fun of it." This year's theme is "Books with Beat." Here's a sampling of the libraries across Long Island sponsoring special events:
Coffeehouse Jam: 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 22
Ages: Grades 6 to 12
Cost: Free, open to anyone with a library card from any library; register in advance
Participants are urged to read their favorite poem during this poetry jam or to play a song. The library will have poetry books available that night if teens want to choose a poem to read. The library will serve coffee and snacks.
Open mic night: 7 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 22
Ages: 10 and older
Cost: Free, but must be Sayville library card holder and register in advance
Sing a song, do stand-up comedy, bring in an instrument or read a poem. "We're going to talk about some music-themed books that we have, too," says Megan Karaptis, youth service librarian. Some examples: "If I Stay" by Gayle Forman and "Fat Kid Rules the World" by K.L. Going.
WrestleMania Reading Challenge: Library hours from Sunday through Oct. 23
Henry Waldinger Memorial Library: 60 Verona Place, Valley Stream, 516-825-6422; nassaulibrary.org/valleyst
Ages: Grades 5 to 12
Cost: Free to anyone; no library card necessary
Students make a pledge to read five books between Teen Read Week and the WrestleMania XXVII on April 3, 2011. Students receive a mini WrestleMania poster when they make the pledge, and they get a WrestleMania trading card upon completion of each book. WrestleMania is one of the sponsors of Teen Read Week. Students can also write an essay about their favorite WrestleMania character and submit it during Teen Read Week to be sent on to the national competition for a chance to win a trip to WrestleMania XXVII in Atlanta.
Create a 'Movie' Poster: Pick up poster board now; turn in by Sunday
Gold Coast Public Library: 50 Railroad Ave., Glen Head, 516-759-8300; goldcoastlibrary.org
Ages: Grades 6 to 12
Cost: Free; no library card necessary
Make a movie-style poster that's actually about your favorite book. Pick up the official poster board during library hours and turn in your finished submission by 5 p.m. Sunday, the beginning of Teen Read Week. Use colored pencils, markers or paint. All the posters will be hung throughout the library. "There's no winner, it's just creativity" says Ashley Sweeting, young adult librarian.
Celebrate the 'Beat' Poets: Library hours Sunday through Oct. 23
Ages: Grades 7 through 12
Cost: Free, no library card necessary
The teen corner will have a "beat poets nook" to teach about the beat generation of the late '50s and early '60s, including writers Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs. A little cafe table and chairs will be set up with books by the authors there; take the beat generation trivia quiz and compete to win a prize.
"Eat a Good Book" and "Just Dance Wii": 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, 3:30 to 4:45 p.m. Oct. 20
Ages: Grades 6 through 12
Cost: Free; no library card necessary; advance registration required
The library has two programs: During "Eat a Good Book," participants will decorate a pre-baked actual, edible cookie in the design of their favorite book using edible markers and paint. During "Just Dance Wii," participants enter the library's Wii room to play.