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Teen Interview: A Reading Competition, Some Advice, and a Spinning Book

2013 April 17
by Rebecca O'Neil
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Let’s be honest, shall we, readers? Most of the time, we read in competition with ourselves: to read longer books, or harder books, or at least more books than we read last year. But how many of us have a fierce competitor who is always trying to out-read us? I recently had the chance to meet Mo and Osay, two students at Westerville Central High School who work in their school library and track their checkouts with precision — to see who is ahead.

Mo is also known for spinning books, and has even earned a nickname for it.

Mo spinning book

Mo and Osay sat down with me to discuss this unusual competition, as well as their advice for readers, non-readers, and today’s popular authors (warning: this advice could be a little spoiler-y if you have not read Harry Potter or The Mark of Athena).


Mo and Osay’s Reading Competition
Plus advice for readers, non-readers, and authors
Westerville Central High School
March 2013

Osay: My name’s Osay.
Mo: And I’m Mohammed.

So…who reads more?

M: She thinks she reads more —
O: I do read more.
M: — but I actually have, like, a life outside of here, and that’s all she does.
O: I do have a life, ’cause I play sports and I have friends.
M: I play a couple sports; she plays one sport.
O: I play more than one, actually.

Osay wins?

O: It doesn’t matter.
M: Bottom line, I read more.
O: I read more.
M: Oh, I have a question. Who recommended the series you’re reading right now? And the series before that?
O: Okay, but who recommended the book you just finished reading?
M: I don’t remember what book I finished reading; I have no idea what you’re talking about.
O: It was Witch and Wizard; I recommended it.
M: No she didn’t. It just came out, and I just decided, I’ll take it.
O: No, no, I was like, “Mo, read this!”
M: Shhh, whatever. Next question, please.

On breaking stereotypes

M: It’s like, every time on the football team, any time somebody finds me reading, they’re like, “Are you reading for a class?” and I say, y’know, “Noooo,” and they start laughing at me. I’m like, “I just like to read,” and they wonder why. I’m thinking, let’s say you’re watching a movie, and the director, well, he directs the movie, but it’s in his vision. If you’re reading a book it’s like your own movie but with your own imagination, and you get to control every bit of it, so I just think that’s better.

O: I like reading a lot. Like during pep rallies and stuff, everybody’s cheering and I’m sitting down with a book in my hand.

What advice would you give to non-readers?

M: Actually judge a book by its cover. Go against the saying, because a book that intrigues you — the cover intrigues you — might make you want to read it. Find something that interests you — find a subject that interests you — and go upon that. Don’t let other people recommend books all the time. Find something that you like and just try it for once.

O: If you do find something you like, you can still ask people for help to find a book, because you need suggestions to find the perfect book. Like, my perfect book, I would never have read it if someone didn’t tell me to.

What would you tell other readers?

M: Pollute the world with reading. There’s nothing like too much reading: getting smarter, English gets better, I mean, what’s not to like about reading? Just make it a weekly thing to have one of your friends read a new book. Just make it a mission. Promise yourself, and you never know.

Authors, listen up! Osay and Mo have some things to say.

O: Keep writing — like, good books! Don’t write bad books.
M: Don’t stop in the middle of a series.
O: Exactly. Don’t just end it!
M: Let’s say you’re about to release the third book — make sure two months later, you have the fourth book ready. We don’t want to wait.
O: A whole year!
M: Can’t deal with it. Just email me. I’d like some authors to get my opinion on books before they release it. I’ll try to help out. J.K. Rowling … kill Dumbledore? Still hurt … still hurt. And it’s Percy and Annabeth — we know they’re going to come back to life. But I don’t like the cliffhanger. Rick Riordan, if you’re watching this…

J.K. Rowling and Rick Riordan, are you listening?

A big thanks to Mo and Osay for sharing their thoughts!

Special thanks to Ms. Amy Hamrick, Media Specialist, Westerville Central High School

— Becky O’Neil, currently reading Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

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15 Responses
  1. Kris permalink
    April 17, 2013

    Ah! I love these kids! There wouldn’t be a crisis in education right now if even a quarter of our COLLEGE students were like Mo and Osay.

  2. Carol permalink
    April 17, 2013

    Terrific! I am adopting the “pollute the world with reading” statement because first it made me laugh and then it made me think. Also, I completely concur that you need suggestions to find the perfect book and those should be from wide and varied sources. Again, I say, terrific!

  3. Marisa permalink
    April 17, 2013

    “Pollute the world with reading.” I’m gonna steal that. That’s good stuff.

  4. Becky permalink
    April 17, 2013

    I tweeted this and tagged @jk_rowling and @camphalfblood. You know, cause these authors should know what you guys think! :)

  5. Linda permalink
    April 17, 2013

    If only we could pollute the world with reading! I’d be a much happier camper and so would everyone else! Also love the illustration of reading giving you director’s eyes into the story! Mo and Osay…you’ve made my day!

  6. Erin permalink
    April 17, 2013

    I am so glad to have gotten a glimpse into how Mo and Osay value reading! I love that neither of them shy away from reading in front of their friends even when they are questioned on why they are doing it. It is important to do what you love. And perhaps their confidence will spark something in someone else to not keep something they love to themselves or maybe they will inspire others to find joy in reading too! Either way, I know they will continue to pollute the world with reading-and we need attitudes like this! Thanks Mo and Osay for sharing with us :)

  7. April 17, 2013

    Love, love, love what these kids have to say. We need more like them visiting every school library encouraging their peers to read! Happy National Library Week.

  8. April 17, 2013

    Great Interview Osay and Mohammed. You’re right, Reading rocks!!

  9. Belinda permalink
    April 17, 2013

    How awesome you both are! “Pollute the world with reading”is a keeper quote!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  10. Marie permalink
    April 17, 2013

    Pollute the world with reading!! What great, awesome words from great, awesome people! Thanks for sharing, keep being awesome! And keep reading!

  11. Lisa permalink
    April 17, 2013

    Love your comments! I agree about Dumbledore! Keep reading….and spinning!

  12. Steve permalink
    April 17, 2013

    Love pollute the world with reading and your description of how when you read, you’re directing the movie in your head. Great job you two!

  13. Mickie permalink
    April 19, 2013

    Love it! Go Westervillains!

  14. Mohammed Sankoh and Osayamen Azebamwan-Igbinigie permalink
    April 19, 2013

    Thank you guys!! We really do appreciate all the comments and as always , POLLUTE THE WORLD WITH READING!! P.S if there are any authors who watched this video we really wouldn’t being contacted about the books haha. Thanks again :)

  15. April 23, 2013

    I loved reading this! And completely agree with all of it, particularly Dumbledore’s demise. Ugh! And then sweet Dobby. ::sigh:: My oldest has just started falling in love with reading and I hope she is as passionate about it as she continues through school as you both are. Thanks!

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