This post originally appeared on the Times Union Books Blog here.
When someone asks a school librarian whether kids read books anymore, they’ll have to move past the look of shock from the librarian and then likely hear a few minutes worth of anecdotes and data about how reading is alive and well for teens. It was no more evident than this past weekend when over 250 students and over a hundred more of their librarians, teachers, parents, and siblings converged on the Shenendehowa Middle School campus for the third annual TeenReaderCon.
In short, it’s a free event for middle and high school students to attend a day filled with authors, books, and reading. This year, the students rubbed elbows with eight authors: Jennifer Armstrong, Joseph Bruchac, Eric Devine, Jackie Morse Kessler, Patricia McCormick, Lauren Oliver, James Preller, and Ryan Smithson. There was a kickoff and then individual sessions with the authors and a panel to choose from at the end. Northshire Bookstore was on site to sell the author’s books, but the students could bring their personal copies of the authors’ books as well, plus mementos from the day. It was the hum of the students throughout the day: some excited to exit the bus they rode for over an hour to get there, amazement over Joseph Bruchac’s storytelling, or simply sharing a book recommendation with a stranger turned friend while waiting in line.
The culmination of the day was our author signing where students clamor to get in line for a few extra minutes of face time with their heroes; sometimes it is literal, since rumor has it that Eric Devine, local teacher and author, will willingly sign foreheads if the requester asks. And at the end of a long day when I put my feet up, staring at my book socks and scrolling through the tagged photos from the day, we know we’ve succeeded as a committee of educators, writers, and book lovers in bringing more joy to the joyful readers who took part.
If you want to learn more about TeenReaderCon, including making a donation to continue to make it a free event for students, visit our website at http://teenreadercon.weebly.com. You’ll find pictures from past events, our giving sponsors, and the names of the committee members who work diligently to put this on.