By Dot Bergin
When Teen Services Librarian Megan Statza developed her “10 in 10” summer reading challenge, she was confident that it would attract a reasonable number of middle and high school students. But even Megan was surprised at the number of rising 6th to rising 12th graders who took the challenge to read 10 books in 10 weeks and to submit a review for each book read. All told, 142 tweens and teens signed up, 88 submitted at least one book review, and 36 completed the challenge to read 10 books in 10 weeks.
Those who read “10 in 10” were entered to win a drawing for an iPad mini, contributed by the Friends of the Bedford Free Public Library. And the lucky winner of the grand prize turned out to be rising 6th grader Tim Bennett, an avid reader. There were also drawings every other week for smaller prizes.
About those book reviews: they are published on the Library’s web page, under Teen Blog. To see some of the 600 reviews, click on the Blog: https://bit.ly/1qdIMxt.It’s apparent that many of our teens and tweens show a genuine talent for reviewing. And the breadth and depth of their reading is impressive. The rules of the challenge were that the participants could read in any category: everything from fiction to non-fiction to graphic novels to ebooks, to manga (Japanese comics, enjoyed by all ages in Japan) and audio books. To preserve individual privacy, each reviewer created a user name. The reviews were posted as received and some students read others’ reviews to help them find a book.
Megan wrapped up the program with a survey and, no surprise, the response was enthusiastic, with many participants suggesting that she continue the program next summer. As one student wrote, “The 10 in 10 program was awesome! It got me and my two siblings to want to read, and to process what we were reading by having to write a summary.” (Megan’s review writing requirement was not onerous: anything from three sentences to multiple pages was acceptable.) Another student commented, “Even if nothing is won, I’m still glad to have the incentive to read. I love to do it but technology can be so distracting.” That’s a sentiment with which most adults would agree!
From Megan’s perspective, she learned what teens are reading and what is popular among middle and high school students. That helped her in developing the teen collection. She noted that submitting and reading book reviews created a sense of community among the participants and showed them the great new things to read at our Library.
Megan also said the reading blog doubled as a great advertisement for TAG, the weekly middle school program that happens on Wednesday afternoons at 2 pm. The first meeting will be September 10, with a “Meet & Greet & Eat” theme. All teens are welcome.