Family Literacy in the Digital Age
Books. From the time I was four years old, I can remember being enchanted with books. My mom gifted me with a membership in the I Can Read Book Club. I don't remember how often the books were shipped, but I do remember reading them over and over again until I received a new shipment. The day I received a library card, you would have thought I struck gold. It's a good thing the library was within walking distance, because I would carry stacks of books home and then pour over them for days, especially during the summer vacations. I've always had a thirst for knowledge and adventure. You can find those two things and much more in a book.
Sadly, it seems in the age of computers, Blu-Ray DVD, X-box, Ipods, etc, there are quite a few challenges to keeping children interested in reading. It really does take a family effort, with the parent showing an interest and instilling a love of books in their child(ren).
Several years ago, I worked in a middle school and coordinated the Accelerated Reader program. It's a program where students earn points for reading. The more advanced the book, the more points earned. I kept a cabinet full of incentives when students reached a certain amount of points. I recall Harry Potter just starting to catch on as a favorite in the library and those who didn't normally like to read, really took a liking to this emerging character. That book and the Goosebump series were well-read.
There were those who were voracious readers and then there were students, who could care less about earning points. They simple had no interest or motivation in reading. That always struck me as sad because it was obvious those students didn't have the support system they needed at home. No one motivated or encouraged them to do the simplest of activities with the most benefits.
Ideas for Authors
As an author, it's imperative to remember those same children grow up to be adults who don't like to read. So, how do you reach non-readers, regardless of age? For starters, study successful programs like Accelerated Reader and Pizza Hut BOOK IT and think about ways you can encourage people to read your book and develop a love for reading period.
· Motivation. When you put together your marketing plan, is there a way you can provide an incentive or maybe a contest. One of the popular activities I've seen among bloggers are reading challenges. Can you set-up a reading challenge at your local church or community?
· Make it a family affair. Depending on your genre, is it possible to plan a local family event alongside a Children's Book and/or Young Adult authors around your book release date?
· Make yourself visible. Check with your local library or bookstore to see if they have any literacy events coming up. Develop a relationship and ask how you can help. Become known not just as an author, but a literacy advocate.
· Encourage dialogue. Does your book have topics that are great for family discussion? Be sure to include discussion guides on your website, if they are not alread in your book. Do you have themes that warrant more information? Be willingly to point the readers to articles and other resources. The more interest in a book and it's themes, the more an individual will want to read more.
· Use Technology. If you have the resources, make a video or a book trailer to go along side your book. It doesn't have to be fancy, but it needs to be an attention getter. People who are visual, might need a teaser.
In essence, remain open to trying out new ideas. All writers ultimately want to connect with readers. In this day and age, creativity is still needed long after the novel has been written.Ideas for the FamilyIn the last tip above, I mentioned using technology. Social media has it's place. Online bookspots like Shelfari.com or GoodReads.com may be fun. Depending on the age range, a parent would want to monitor accounts and maybe just create one main family account. It could be fun to add books read and write reviews. Families can even create their own book blog.
There are quite few websites, family can use to help them select books and make reading fun. You will notice PBS Kids is the "King" of Literacy television programs and they have excellent interactive websites.
Sesame Street (ages 2-4)http://pbskids.org/sesame/
Super Why! (ages 3-6)http://pbskids.org/superwhy/
Between the Lions (ages 4-7)http://pbskids.org/lions/
Reading Rainbow (ages 6-8)http://pbskids.org/readingrainbow/
Word Girl (ages 4-9)http://pbskids.org/wordgirl/
Here are a few other sites to check out!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tyora Moody is a writer and web developer. The owner of Tywebbin Creations is also a social network enthusiast. You can find her online at two of her favorite networks, Facebook and Twitter. For more marketing tips and ideas, be sure to stop by the NEXT LEVEL Marketing blog at http://www.tywebbin.com/next.