SPECIAL REPORT: Embracing the ‘Kindle Effect’
The NEA’s “The Big Read” (www.NEABigRead.org) seeks to “restore reading to the center of American culture” by partnering with communities around the country to promote discussion around books. Elements of the program include a promotional kit with audio and visual materials (including dramatic readings by famous actors), movie screenings, book clubs, panel discussions, teacher’s guides and an interactive Web site.
A promising development in the effort to spread the word about new releases is the increasing prevalence of authors appearing on cable television news shows, Schroeder says.
“Writers are scholars. If you are a journalist, you can’t know about everything, so it adds an awful lot of depth to reporting to have an author who has researched a topic extensively. It’s good for all concerned to have these authors on these shows.”
Getting the late-night talk shows back on the air in the midst of the Hollywood writer’s strike just after Christmas was “a great New Year’s present,” Schroeder says, as authors’ appearances on these shows tend to be a boon to book sales.
Another promising development to kick off 2008 was the announcement (on Jan. 3) of children’s book author Jon Scieszka as the Library of Congress’ first-ever National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Scieszka is known both as an author and advocate for getting boys to read more through his Web-based, nonprofit literacy initiative Guys Read (www.GuysRead.com).
Statistics indicate that such an advocate is needed, Greco says.
“We know from statistical data that when you deal with juveniles between [the ages of] 7 and 8 to about 15 or 16 … girls read far more than boys,” he notes. “When you look at what boys are reading, they’re not reading much, but it’s mainly manga comic books.”
Schroeder says that, just as with adults, the key is to make kids aware of the choices available to them and connect them with books that interest them.