Friday, October 18, 2013

Public Libraries Make a Difference: Teen Read Week

Katy Moonan, our Family Literacy Program Director, tells us why the public library means so much to her.

My family and I moved from Guanajuato, Mexico to South Pomfret, Vermont when I was in fifth grade. In Mexico, there were no public libraries. My sister and I welcomed the new privilege of the town library with joyfully open arms, ranking it right up there with drinkable sink water and the lack of street dogs. Every week, we would check out a stack of books, usually reading an average of at least 3 books a week.  Reading became my obsession and would remain so throughout my teenage years. I loved learning and imagining about other places and people, both real and fictional. I loved developing my familiarity and perception of how characters (and the real people I knew couldn’t be that different!) acted, reacted, and felt in different situations. I loved how reading made things easier at school—I was able to become good at spelling, vocabulary, and writing even though I’d never done much of this in English before. Most of all I loved how easy it was to anchor down into a book world and remain there, suspended in the waves of the story, until reality hauled up via the parental calls to dinner or obligatory bed time.

The most re-read series of this happy era was The Song of the Lioness by Tamora Pierce, about a young girl who pretends to be a boy in order to train to become a knight. The trials and triumphs of the heroine and other characters captured me completely as I got to know them, laughing at their humor, raging at the injustice they faced and celebrating their victories. My parents would ask what I wanted to do at the start of the weekend and without hesitation I would reply "read." Granted, there wasn't much competition in terms of amusements in our quiet Vermont existence.  Still, my thirteen year old self wouldn't hear of exchanging reading for other activities if she could help it and I know that my current self is indebted to that resolve. Reading as a young teenager was without a doubt one of the biggest favors I could have done for myself, because of the enjoyment I got out of it at the time but also because it allowed me to claim my own literacy and lioness capabilities. 

To learn more about Teen Read Week, visit YALSA's site at

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