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Teen Book Promotion seeks to inspire reading

Written by Tayde McDonald and Elena Matos, Obama Eagle Staff Reporters

Simon Rafferty and Tessa Barber are two of the Carnegie Library’s finest librarians. They work primarily at the East Liberty Branch, but that doesn’t stop them from dropping by at a school and talking about awesome books.

Simon and Tessa came to our school on behalf of Teen Read Week, an annual, national event promoted by the Young Adult Library Service Association (YALSA). Teen Read Week is a time where librarians all over the country come to schools to inspire young student to become avid readers through book talks. The books promoted were a mix of nonfiction and fiction, and were appropriate for both middle school and high school. Simon sees it as, “A way to get reluctant readers to think that reading is fun.” That’s why most of the books they brought weren’t boring, but were instead easy to enjoy.

Tessa also added that, “It’s good for us because some titles weren’t getting lots of attention, now they’re being discovered.” Not only were books talked about, but Simon and Tessa created a raffle where one student from each class would win a free book. Some of the books presented were: Maze Runner by Walter Dean Myers, Lockdown by James Dashner, The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer, and A Monster Calls by Patricia Ness. Those were only a select few of the titles that were introduced to young students.

Simon got the middle school crowd roused up by talking about how teen books were better now than they’d ever been before, he talked about books like that were becoming movies. Then he would read aloud the blurb of the book to give them an idea of what they would be reading. Tessa added that students should pay attention to their book descriptions, because at the end there would be trivia questions. If they got a question right, they would win a piece of candy. That got them cheering.

It can be assumed that there will be a different approach for the high school group, but who doesn’t like candy?

This is Tessa’s first time coming to Obama, and she was really pleased with the response the students were giving. “I love Obama,” she said. “The students here are great and responsive.”

We asked them if they had any other plans for the library to help benefit students. Simon wants to go further with the library database and get more sources for juniors and seniors to conduct research with it. He says that a lot of money goes into the database and he wants upperclassmen to familiarize themselves with it to benefit them in college.

In November, He and Tessa will be starting a PSAT course to help high school students and give them the resources they need for when test day arrives.

They also want to set up a system where students who checked out books from the East Liberty library can return them at our school one, then one of them would come and pick it up. This makes it easier for students to come in contact with books without the strain of having to go too far out to return them.

And of course, there’s the Meet the Authors Event!

If you have any doubt that Tessa and Simon are good for recommending books, just look at their track record! On Tessa’s Good Reads account, it’s listed that she has read over 1,500 books since 2008, mostly library books. Simon’s is less impressive, with only over 100, but he’s well experienced with working with teens and has participated in numerous adolescent programs. Go see Simon and Tessa both at our East Liberty Library, just down the street!

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