Common Ground: Teen readers to pick their top books _lowres

Photo provided by EVANGELYNN CLARK -- Scotlandville Magnet High School senior and SGA president Anthony Kenney votes Wednesday for his favorite Louisiana Teen Readers' Choice Award.

The polls don’t lie.

If you think teen readers are a dying group, then it might be worth visiting Scotlandville Magnet High today when hundreds of students will cast ballots for the year’s top teen book.

The 2015 Louisiana Teen Readers’ Choice Award program is fueling the excitement, said school librarian Evangelynn Clark, whose library is set up for voting.

“We’re trying to entice kids to read more,” said Clark, who is promoting the program through a grant and partnership with the state’s library system.

Many of the nominated books feature teen and young adult characters, whose predicaments range from a young woman imprisoned and tortured by Nazis during World War II, to the life of a teen who wakes up in a different person’s body everyday.

Strong reading and literacy traditions have always prevailed at my alma mater, Scotlandville Magnet, where teachers and administrators often kept students immersed in books, poetry, yearbooks and the student-run newspaper.

Now, students have so many exciting avenues at their disposal to amplify their interests in reading. They can read the nominated books online and even preview book trailers from their smartphones or tablets.

These creative methods help keep reading and literacy at the forefront and offer students a chance to walk in another person’s shoes.

Anthony Kenney, 18, a senior at Scotlanville, used the intercom to make announcements about books he enjoyed.

“I voiced my opinion,” said Kenney, who urged his classmates to read two of 10 nominated books: a mystery crime thriller about the son of a serial killer, “I Hunt Killers,” and “Discovering Wes Moore,” the story of two fatherless boys whose choices send one to jail for murder while the other becomes a professional businessman and author.

“Reading the books related to different things that happen during youth,” Kenney said.

Clark is thrilled to see students so engaged with the program.

“Book reading is still alive, and it excites me when kids can come in here and ask for books by title and author,” Clark said.

Students prefer books with suspense, dramas that “address issues happening today,” she said.

Consider the tale of a young cancer patient who falls in love in “The Fault in Our Stars,” or the tragedy of war and civilian life in “Something Like Normal,” which is about an 18-year-old man who returns home from a tour of duty in Afghanistan and must cope with the death of a friend and issues of civilian life.

Today’s vote is going to be a tough one.

Chante Dionne Warren is a freelance writer. She can be reached at