National program encourages teens to read

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Alison Lambart pointed to the books lining the shelves in the young adult reading area at Bud Werner Memorial Library. In an ideal world, there wouldn't be any books there, she said.

Instead, they'd be in the hands of teens, who would open them frequently, day and night.

1. "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" by J. K. Rowling -- Fantasy.

2. "Eragon" by Christopher Paolini -- Fantasy.

3. "Pirates!" by Celia Rees -- Historical Fiction.

4. "Trickster's Choice" by Tamora Pierce -- Fantasy.

5 "Inkheart" by Cornelia Funke -- Fantasy.

6. "A Great and Terrible Beauty" by Libba Bray -- Supernatural.

7. "The Goose Girl" by Shannon Hale -- Fantasy.

8. "Princess in Pink" by Meg Cabot -- Realistic.

9. "The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things" by Carolyn Mackler -- Realistic.

10. "Curse of the Blue Tattoo" by L.A. Meyer -- Historical Fiction.

"Nothing makes me sadder than to see books sitting here," said Lambart, youth services manager at the library.

Encouraging youths to read for fun is the goal of Teen Read Week, a national event that concludes Saturday. The initiative was started by the American Library Association in 1998. This year is the third in which Teen Read Week has been spotlighted at Steamboat Springs' public library.

As part of the program, teens across the country nominate books for a top 10 list. This week, local teens can stop by the library or go online to choose their favorites.

If a teen checks out any of the 78 books that have been nominated at Bud Werner Memorial Library, he or she will get a free candy bar.

The focus of the week is giving teens time to read, helping them find time in their busy schedules and letting them choose what they want to read.

It's easy for teens to get bogged down in required reading for classes and get frustrated, Lambart said. But a big part of being a teenager is making decisions for oneself.

"That's what they're all about," Lambart said. "They like to feel like they have some control over their lives, and sometimes, just giving them a choice over what they're reading can have a pretty big impact."

Almost three out of four youths aged 8 to 18 say they read for pleasure during a typical day, but that number is declining, according to the American Library Association. The number of 17-year-olds who say they never or hardly ever read for fun increased from 9 to 19 percent during the past decade, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

But all that most teens need is one good magazine or book to get hooked, Lambart said.

There's no place better than the library to discover that there is something written for every age and every taste, so another goal of Teen Read Week is to get teens into the library to see what it offers, she said. Besides books, teens likely will be drawn to magazines, videos and DVDs.

The library has seen huge jumps in circulation of books targeted for teens. From 2002 to 2003, the circulation of young adult books increased by 56 percent. From 2003 to 2004, it increased another 71 percent.

Other Routt County libraries and schools focus on teens.

The Hayden Public Library is not participating in Teen Read Week this year but has created a young adult book collection. And it has plans to create a teen center to house those books, library director Ana Lash said.

-- To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail scunningham@steamboatpilot.com

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