7. Remember it’s the 21st century.
Not only is it the 21st Century, there is just so much to do! If you’re a child or screenager, you are surrounded by a whole host of entertainment and online activities to keep you busy. So rule seven is obvious: use technology to hook your child.
It is difficult and indeed foolish to try to separate reading from technology these days. Our children are digital natives and technology forms an incredibly important part of their lives. The clever parent or teacher will embrace this and use technology to tempt their reluctant reader.
Ebooks are increasingly accessible, cheap and especially exciting for younger readers. Ebooks for younger readers include many interactive elements which will engage and entertain the hardest audience. All you need to access an ebook is a computer. For more portable ebooks you can choose to use an e-reader device such as a Kindle or Kobo, or you can use your i-pad, i-phone or i-pod touch. Whilst interactive ebooks will really appeal to the very young reader, it is interesting to note that anecdotal evidence from booksellers and teacher librarians indicates that many teenagers still prefer the printed book to the ebook. It doesn’t really matter what format your child chooses to read, as long as they are reading.
Teenagers may prefer to use technology in other ways to keep them engaged in reading. YouTube has fantastic book trailers to hook children and teenagers. Book trailers are just like the movie trailers you see in the cinema. They are often made by the publishing houses, but can also be put together by fans. A book trailer will give you a ‘taste’ of the book: a little of the plot and characterisation, but like a movie trailer, they will leave you wanting more. They are a fabulous way to tempt the reluctant reader, and I use them a lot in my library to promote books and reading.
Social networking is a guaranteed way to engage a teenager. There are few teenagers these days who are not using Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and other social networking tools. A great way of engaging your child with books is to tap into the many resources available through social networking to promote reading. There are many Facebook groups associated with reading, and on Twitter it is easy to follow popular authors. In addition, there are numerous blogs created by fans of reading, or special genres such as science fiction. One terrific website which many teenagers enjoy is http://www.fanfiction.net. Fan fiction is where fans write stories about their favourite books using the characters and settings already created by the original author. Fans can write the next Harry Potter chapter, or write a story using characters from the Percy Jackson books, or develop a new plot line for the Twilight series.
Other ways of using technology to engage young readers is to simply browse the web and see what’s available. You will find websites about popular books, authors’ websites, library sites and blogs about reading. There are also online magazines for teenagers about books. One example is Spine Out, an online magazine created by Good Reading magazine. Spine Out is targeted at Young Adults and is designed for young people to share their ideas about reading and writing in various media: words, film, music and art. As such it actively seeks contributions from its young readers.
If you want your child to spend time reading, you do need to appreciate that a great deal of their reading will be done in front of a screen. If you can embrace this idea, and encourage your child to utilise some of the tools and sites mentioned here, you are planting a seed and sparking an interest. More importantly, if kids are reading about reading, then generally, they are reading.
© Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.