Teen Read Week Rocks To The Sound Of Books With A Beat
- October 21st, 2010
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To celebrate this year’s Teen Read Week theme of Books with a Beat, YALSA and libraries everywhere are encouraging teens to embrace poetry, audiobooks, books about music, and anything else that puts rhythm and reading together. From literary battles of the bands (like this one between publishing folks who moonlight as rock stars at NYPL) to shuffling iPods to create poetry, I absolutely love this approach to keeping reading relevant. Here are just a few reasons why I think it works so well…
Libraries really are becoming a place to rock out - A few years back an episode of This American Life on “Image Makers” featured an effort in Michigan to rebrand public libraries as hip hangouts with the help of a touring rock band. Successful with local teens (though not so popular with older patrons) we now know this type of experimentation and shift towards the social is happening in teen spaces of libraries everywhere. The introduction of collaborative technology, music, gaming (and yes, music games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero ) has radically transformed the feel and function menu of the modern library. And with the help of a growing number of librarians willing to incorporate these elements and host programs that take a literary riff on them (a book/movie double feature like Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, for instance), old stereotypes of hushed study halls are going the way of the card catalog.
Some books have built-in soundtracks - These days we’re used to YA books acting as a launching point for multimedia components that lend themselves to soundtracks and playlists, but connecting books with music is nothing new. The first time I came across The Pixies was reading Brave New Girl, a coming of age novel appropriately enough put out by MTV Books, where the cool, angsty main character idolized them as her favorite band. I didn’t get quite so obsessed, but soon after that they definitely made their way on to a few mixes I made for friends. Beyond that discovery, well placed fictional shout outs to actual bands and songs can add that layer of texture that closes the gap between the real world and the page. Just take Gayle Forman’s If I Stay (one of the 2010 Teens Top Ten picks) where poignant musical moments punctuate the novel (see her awesome explanation/ playlist here). In cases like this, when music really hits home with the mood of a book (whether intentionally by the author, or with some remixing by the reader), it can even become shorthand for calling up the story whenever.
Pressing ‘play’ has never been so easy - For all the ways books can inspire music listening and creating, the web has created instant ways to share them. Excitingly, this is becoming more and more of a two way street between YA writers and fans. So whether you want to see a playlist curated by the author (one of my favorite regular features on readergirlz ), share one of your own in a fan forum or promote your book-themed band a la Harry and the Potters, you can easily find the means to rock out online.
All this is to say that even when Teen Read Week ends and the official displays are packed away, those books with a beat are likely to go on.
P.S. If any Ypulse Readers have favorite books that turned them on to music (or vice-versa), we’d love to hear the story in comments.