MELISSA BLOCK, host:
It's time for Three Books, our reading series where writers talk about three books on a single theme. Today's topic: teens who hate to read. Seventeen-year-old Amber Gibson writes book reviews for the Web site TeensReadToo.com, and she picked three stories that might get young people to crack a book and sit still for a couple of hours.
Ms. AMBER GIBSON (TeensReadToo.com): Competing with amusement parks, television and Nintendo Wii, reading is not often a top priority for teens. Enticing us to read during the one time of year when we are not locked up in school is a daunting task. However, here are a few books that can steal even the most reluctant readers away from Guitar Hero, if only for a few hours.
For girls who love Cosmopolitan, I recommend Melissa Walker's "Violet on the Runway." Violet is transformed from awkward teenager to high-fashion diva almost overnight when she is unexpectedly discovered. Walker uses her insider experience as a fashion writer for magazines like Teen Vogue to paint a realistic portrait of the fashion industry. Not only a great escapist read for a day at the beach, "Violet on the Runway" is endearing and empowering as well. Think "America's Next Top Model" in book form, only better.
For those with testosterone and a great sense of humor, "Spud" will induce many a smirk. South Africa in 1990 might be foreign to American teens that have never heard of apartheid, but 13-year-old John Milton and the rowdy boys at boarding school make for an unforgettable cast of characters. Read the book, and discover the crude origins of John's nickname, Spud. Spud's diary entries are silly but occasionally insightful, like catching up with an old friend who has gone off to college and come back with outrageous stories that you can't quite believe. Spud's honest and often politically incorrect thoughts are refreshing and laugh-out-loud funny.
Males and females alike will appreciate Jay Asher's "Thirteen Reasons Why." This is the fictional story of a boy, Clay, dealing with the death of a girl he liked. Before she committed suicide, Hannah Baker left a series of cassette tapes behind explaining the events that led Hannah to end her life. Depressing, yes. But teens know how brutal high school can be and will sympathize with Hannah and Clay. Asher shows how frighteningly interconnected our lives are, and how much of an impact we can unknowingly have on others. "Thirteen Reasons Why" will leave you with chills long after you have finished reading.
If you are a teen that hates to read, you'll be surprised by how much you enjoy these books. Maybe books will even replace TV as your primary form of entertainment. Nah, I doubt it.
BLOCK: Amber Gibson is 17 years old and lives outside Chicago. She reviews books for the Web site TeensReadToo.com. You can find details on these three books and recommendations for many more on our Web site. Go to npr.org/books.
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