Tag Archives: Children’s literature

Building a Generation of Book Lovers

I have been thinking a lot about children’s literature lately. As I prepare to begin my journey into a career in publishing I have been contemplating the critical role that children play in the future of publishing.

Playstations. Xboxes. Game Cubes. Tablets. Smart Phones. With the abundance of digital game centers kids are becoming increasingly less apt to choose a book over a game. The simple pleasure of discovering the twists and turns of the plot, befriending the characters, and getting lost in a new and exciting world seems to be foreign to many children.

A recent study by commissioned by the National Reading Campaign in Canada, authored by Sharon Murphy, indicated that choice was a “key factor in instilling a love of reading.” The report’s primary aim was to uncover the factors that promote a nation of people who love to read as opposed to simply a literate nation.

The research touched on numerous telling aspects about children’s engagement in reading and the effect of gender, age, choice of content, and reading environment on the amount of pleasure derived from reading. The most compelling finding was that even those children who identified themselves as frequent readers would not read texts other than those that were assigned to them. This indicates that the way in which reading is being taught in schools is actually stifling children’s enjoyment of reading.

If given the choice of the types of book they would like to read, children will be much more receptive to reading as an act of pleasure as opposed to a mandatory chore. Children in the study also positively responded to a change in environment. When taken out of the formal setting of the classroom and put into a more “comfy” setting the children became much more social, comfortable, and confident in themselves and in the opinions about what they had read.

I was read to as a child and know the importance that foundation in reading has played in my life as both an avid reader and writer. Fostering the love of books in children is something that I believe is critical, especially now that our world is becoming so increasingly focused on the digital sphere. In order to get children to become active and engaged readers, we must carefully nurture the love of reading from an early age. I believe that the future of publishing is strongly dependent upon instilling our children with a love of reading that will carry through into adulthood. Empower your children–give them the wonderful gift of the joy of reading.

Check out the full details of the study on Publishers Weekly.

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Difficult Lessons Couched in Creative Storylines

In a world filled with so many complex issues and dangers, writers seeking to inform children in a way that is non-threatening, engaging, and relatable have an extremely delicate task. At a recent PEN Panel called “Children’s Literature: Braving Our Endangered World,” held on May 4th, panelists discussed their tactics for presenting science and ecology-themed books to children in a way that would resonate with them.

The panelists’ books covered topics such as ethnic conflicts, endangered species, and trash dumping in our oceans. Each of the panelists have found a way to expand their expertise in science through the lens of literature. By creating human stories to surround scientific issues, they have been able to reach a new audience and convey significant messages about serious scientific issues.

Though these are weighty subjects to address in children’s books, they are vital to instill them with a sense of what is going on in the world around them. Children are naturally eager to learn and explore and tapping into their innate sense of discovery is an excellent way to impart important messages that will shape their worldview.

The key according to Padma Venkatraman, author of Island’s End, is “well-rounded passionate characters that leave readers with questions.” Too often the moral or social message of a children’s story can be too thinly veiled, which quickly loses a child’s attention as it then becomes more of a boring lesson and less of a captivating story. Fostering that wondrous sense of curiosity and inquisitiveness and getting children engaged with key topics surrounding environmental issues and cultural differences is the best way to enable them to become conscientious and well-rounded adults.

Check out the full article on Publishers Weekly.

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