Wednesday, 25 November 2015

I need your help: it’s time to make reading cool (again)

Blackthorn berries help make sloe gin.

I need your help: it’s time to make reading cool (again)

Here’s the deal. I need your help. So this is what I’d like you to do.
Read my post, think about it and leave me a comment with your thoughts and ideas.
Together, we can make reading cool.

The other day I shared a blog post called, 13 Utterly Disappointing Facts About Books,
on my Facebook and Twitter feeds. Everyone who left me a comment agreed with the sentiments
of the blog post. The future of reading is bleak guys. The first fact in that blog post illustrates why:

“In a 2012 survey, almost a fifth of children said they would be “embarrassed”
if a friend saw them with a book….”

Embarrassed? The sad thing is, it’s probably true.

We could talk for days about when this sad state of affairs occurred and we almost certainly 
wouldn’t be able to pin point a time. We could say it was the rise of TV and video games,
that kids today prefer instant gratification. We could blame it on teachers for not making reading interesting enough in schools. Equally, we could blame it on parents for not reading with their kids enough anymore, because it’s too hard to fit it in every night in our hectic schedules.

But what’s the point in assigning blame? It doesn’t help. It doesn’t solve anything.
What we need to do is take action.

Here’s where I need your help. How can we make reading cool again? 
I want you to think of one idea and post it in the comments. 
It can be as whacky and outlandish as you like. You might even think it sounds silly. I don’t care.

As an English teacher, I was always looking for ways to help my pupils enjoy the books
we were reading. With one class, I’d brought a book to the lesson that I thought they’d enjoy. 
Instead, I was met with groans and eye rolls. So, I asked for a couple of volunteers,
gave them the key to the book cupboard and told them to go pick their own.

They came back with a book I wouldn’t have expected: “Girl, Missing” by Sophie McKenzie.
Why didn’t I expect it? For a start the group was heavy on boys. This is blatantly a book aimed
at teenage girls. Secondly, it had a label stuck on the front saying it was for “advanced readers”, which would intimidate a lot of kids. Not this class. We started reading and they loved it.

Book chosen, the next challenge was to come up with ways of exploring it
and hitting assessment foci, without sapping the enjoyment out of it.
Here’s one of the ideas I came up with:

Creating a Facebook page for Lauren, to explore her character. It was a visual task,
which they loved and then we displayed the results, which they were thrilled with.

You don’t have to be a teacher to use an idea like that.
It would be a great activity to do with your kids.

So, whether you’re a parent, teacher, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, grandparent, or bookseller:
I need your help. Come up with one idea to make reading fun or cool (both would be fantastic)
and post it in the comments.

Then I want you to go and try it.
And I want you to come back and tell me what the result was.

In the end, I’m hoping to create a bank of fun reading ideas on this website,
which people can look at and use. And all of you who read this blog and love reading
are going to help me do it. Because together, we can make reading cool again.

If you want to help even more, please share this blog post with everyone you know,
using the social media links below. On Twitter, use the hashtag #MakeReadingCool.
Let's get this trending.

The more people help, the better this will be.
Clare Davidson said:
Thanks for commenting, Deb. I used to do tickling and things with Eleanor when she was younger. We had a book called 'Calm Down Boris', which had a glove puppet in the book.
I used to make it give her "kisses", which is what Boris kept doing in the story. She loved it.
At that age, it's about making reading fun, giving them the experience of holding a book
and turning the pages and nurturing a love of stories.
Now she's a little older, I'm looking for ways to make learning to read by herself fun!

Deb E said:
Good effort! I've only got a 3 year old, so we're just starting out. At the moment,
I think his enjoyment of reading is mostly a stalling tactic at bedtime. That being said,
he loves the stories that big me an excuse to tickle him (I always tickle him if he reaches out
and touches Scarface Claw... if the evil feline is on the page... and Taratula Boo
gives me several excuses). My only plan, at this stage, is to keep presenting him with new
and exciting reads... Can't wait to share Harry Potter and the like with him...

Ellen said:
Claire, This is great. I married into a non-reading family. My husband reads non-fiction
but not in front of the kids. But I do. When my daughter and I first met, she was 6
and several times she grabbed a book and read with me. But I quickly learned she wanted
to share the experience. I've been struggling with making reading appealing to my kids.
The youngest is the most likely but my son hates it. I thought I had a window of opportunity
when he was writing his own story - he really enjoyed that but somewhere the dream faded.
(Bad feedback? I don't know because I wasn't there when it happened and he doesn't share.)
Both kids are fascinated that I wrote a book. I see a hook there, too. Mostly though I introduce things over and over because if I'm too heavy handed, they balk. I've learned that.
I believe Harry will be my youngest gateway book. She buys books at school bookfairs
but doesn't seem to read them. They're not grabbing her. I hope Harry grips her.
She's nine now and has to read a half hour every day for school. She loves reading aloud
to her dad so we're milking it. Sorry - this was more babbling than helpful. There are kernels in there, though and maybe someone else will be inspired. I'll continue to ponder and go for crazy. 

Stacy Teitel said:
I completely agree! When did reading become un-cool? My younger brother tells me
he doesn't like to read, and it breaks this avid reader's heart. I got into reading, funnily enough
not from school, but from my own need to explore and discover different things.
But I remember those summers at camp when counselors would ask me why I was reading by myself in the bunk instead of playing outside with other kids (as if the solitary pleasure was a bad thing). Instances like that aren't very helpful to kids. I think some ideas could be teachers reading novels aloud in class (I've even had college teachers do this and it was a lot of fun; it felt like a cozy story time for adults). But also, use the content from books to relate to real-life situations
for today's kids... Some kids don't care at all what Shakespeare has to say, but they understand tragedy, love, betrayal, adventure, etc. The disconnect between classics and today doesn't help kids become engaged. I also like the idea of group projects, possibly art related, to get kids interested
in books. These are pretty vague...but I love this blog post. Thanks for writing!

You can TCR specialist and language dictionaries that are spontaneously accessed.
I can Turbo Charge Read a novel 6-7 times faster and remember what I’ve read.
I can TCR an instructional/academic book around 20 times faster and remember what I’ve read.
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Advanced Reading Skills Perhaps you’d like to join my FaceBook group ?

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To quote the Dr Seuss himself, “The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn; the more places you'll go.”    

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