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