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How are our life-long reading interests formed?

Post by Duncan Smith
Posted January 29, 2013 in NoveList Plus, NoveList Select, Readers' Advisory News

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How are our life-long reading interests formed? I recently listened to an interview that was a great reminder. NPR's Backseat Bookclub is an audio book club aimed at 9-14 year-olds. Kids read the selected books and send in their questions, which are then presented to the book's author during the All Things Considered radio program. December's selection was Rick Riordan's The Red Pyramid, which uses Egyptian mythology as its foundation. 

As I listened to Rick Riordan's interview and the readers' comments, I recalled my own adventures with mythology. I discovered Marvel's Thor comics when I was in middle school. They were an easy introduction to Norse mythology and inspired me to search for anything and everything I could find about Thor, Odin, Asgard, and Viking culture. I still take a reading detour whenever I encounter references to one of these favored topics. I suspect many of you have similar stories. 

Riordan's interview includesvery interesting biographical information. as well as why he writes the books he writes. An especially moving portion of the interview considers how teens are -- like Riordan's characters -- caught between not just two, but several worlds: childhood and adulthoos, parents and friends, self and society. 

A particularly touching fan letter came from a 16 year old girl describing herself as an "ADHD, dyslexic, annoying seaweed-brained kid." She goes on to thank him for his books, because they helped her become who she is today: someone who is loyal to her friends, who stands up for the truth, and who -- when her best isn't good enough -- tries harder instead of giving up.

This is a reminder that books do shape lives. Getting readers to the right book at the right time does lasting good for library users, and both their efforts and ours deserve celebration. 

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Duncan Smith is Vice President and founder of NoveList. He is passionate about the importance of reading, and the power of libraries to change lives.