Is reading on a ‘death spiral’?

It’s in the news all the time lately: kids aren’t reading! Books are dead! Is it the literary death spiral?

Jon Scieszka photo by Marty Umans Newly appointed U.S. National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, author Jon Scieszka thinks we can avoid the death spiral. In this article from the Washington Post, he says we should “give children freedom to choose what they want to read rather than what adults think they should read” and expand the definition of reading to include “nonfiction, graphic novels, comic books, magazines, online, audio books—I think all that works. It all helps turn kids into readers.”

Recorded Books’ audiobooks and Playaways—including lots of exciting nonfiction titles and books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which incorporate graphic novel elements—are a great way to get kids interested in reading. Scieszka says he’s a “fan of stupid reading,” and recognizes that as long as kids are reading something, it’s a good thing. He says fun is the ticket to reading, a philosophy we think is great.

GuysRead.comScieszka has even started his own project, a website called Guysread that aims to encourage boys to read more. Because they develop later, see mostly female role models as readers, and are often introduced to reading with books that don’t interest them, many boys don’t consider themselves readers. GuysRead suggests books and authors that readers of all ages—girls too—will appreciate for their humor and familiar themes. Many of the books, including Bud, Not Buddy, The Spiderwick Chronicles books, Dan Gutman’s Baseball Card Adventures, titles by Gary Paulsen, Joey Pigza books, and titles from Chris Crutcher are available on audiobook or Playaway from Recorded Books. Check out the GuysRead list and submit some of your own titles.

Photo by Marty Umans, provided compliments of Jon Scieszka

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4 Responses

  1. Another growing medium for young readers is the e-book, with the most recent entry into the market being Amazon’s Kindle. Audiobooks can be downloaded to it, along with digital versions of many of the titles mentioned by Jon Scieszka. Whatever medium suits adolescent readers should be encouraged.
    Gordon Rogers

  2. Great Blog!
    I have 2 comments..First, I like the idea Scieszka has created with GuysRead. I have included a link on my blog and hope to use this as a PR tool at my school site. Often times boys are the hardest to reach and this tool could be something that increases circulation and motivates students across grade levels.
    Secondly, I like the idea that students should read what they like. It is difficult to say no to students when they come into the library, especially when the school has implemented programs such as AR or RC (Accelerated Reader and Reading Counts). Students should be advised to balance their selections. Student should know “Yes, you should read what you like and yes, you should read what your teacher recommends as well”. I believe speaking to students about book selection will make the “death spiral” non-existent.

  3. […] Paterson has been named the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, replacing previous ambassador Jon Scieszka. Paterson has chosen “Read for Life” as her platform and will serve a two-year term as […]

  4. Very good post and a wonderful read. You have raised some legitimate points. Great work, keep it up. I love coming back back to this site and digesting the excellent content you always have on offer.

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