Your generosity helps spark creativity and a love of reading for young people!
Because of you, tweens and teens are spending their time engaged at the Library reading for pleasure.
It was one of those hot, lingering Pittsburgh summers; school was out, the days were long, and Patrick Wilds needed to get out of the house — a day away from his PlayStation, TikTok feed and other distractions. “He needed to get out and get some fresh air,” says his mom, Zhan Williamson. “So, I told him to go to the Library.”
It had been a while since Patrick had been to the Library’s Hill District branch near his house. “The last time I was at the Library was only once when I was in kindergarten,” says the 10-year-old, now a fifth-grader at the Urban Academy of Greater Pittsburgh. According to his mom, reading wasn’t that exciting for him, so he never picked up a book in his spare time. “To be honest,” says Zhan, “regular books are a struggle to get him to read.” But this time, something was different. Patrick went straight to the Library’s Teenspace, started hanging out and really liked it. “It was a cool space,” he says.
“The first day he came in, Patrick went to the manga section and began pulling several books, as well as books on drawing anime and manga characters,” says Teen Library Services Associate Eva Diodati. “Then he settled onto one of our comfortable chairs to read for several hours.”
One hour turned into two. Three books turned into four. “I was having fun,” says Patrick. So much fun that he returned to the Library again and again, settling into his favorite chair, browsing the shelves and reading more books about anime. No video, TikTok or phone — just books. Books he couldn’t put down and pages he couldn’t stop turning.
“It was really inspiring to the entire staff to see a young teen really embrace books,” says Eva. “The delight of finishing a book and knowing that the next one is queued up and waiting for you, there is no comparison. I saw it in Patrick’s eyes as he closed one book and reached for the next: anticipation for the next adventure. “
“I wanted to get different concepts about anime; that’s why I try to read books,” says Patrick. “So I can design more characters.”
The characters he designs are part of a comic book series he has in the works about good guys who take on a slew of ever-scheming villains.
“We showed Patrick all the awesome drawing supplies available to him in the Teenspace,” says Eva. Thanks to your support, things like tracing paper, cardstock, copy paper, a charcoal pencil set, watercolor and acrylic paints, an assortment of brushes, drawing pens, drafting pencils and markers are available. He used all of them and continued drawing, thinking about his characters, the good guys and the villains. “He has incredible artistic talent. He even left some of his art for us to display in the Teenspace,” says Eva. “Others see Patrick reading books on how to draw manga, studying different manga titles, making draft after draft, and they can understand that his amazing skill takes hard work. They can see that it is possible to make art like Patrick if they are willing to put in the same amount of work.
“I’m hoping that Patrick’s zeal for reading and art will rub off on other teens,” says Eva. “A common misconception teens have about the Library is that the Library only serves adults and kids. Many tweens and teens walk into the Library and see an adult space and a children’s space and think those are their only options. However, when they discover that there is actually a space completely dedicated to them, their eyes light up.”
Patrick hopes that his friends and peers will also get into the Library the way he has. “It’s important that they go to the Library so they can learn how to read because there are some people out there who don’t know how to read. One day they’ll get smarter and own a whole business.”
“I like the fact that he loves going down to the Library,” says his mom, Zhan. “I’ll let him walk down there. Sometimes he doesn’t have his phone, and I go and check on him, and he’s just there reading a book. It’s making his little sister want to go down there as well.”
Thanks to your generosity, tweens like Patrick have a dedicated welcoming space to discover books, learn new skills and just be themselves.