One of the big points King hits on is that kids are much more willing to put down the xbox's than adults think they are. Why? Because kids are always on the lookout for magic.
That really struck a chord with me. You hear adults complain time and time again about those darn video games, those always plugged-in ipods, those never quiet TVs. But ask anyone in publishing: kid lit/MG/YA is hot right now. And it wouldn't be, would it, if kids weren't reading?
Alan Rickman said it best, "It is an ancient need to be told stories." And that ancient need isn't going away. But adults are worried that kids have stopped reading.
If you look at why, it's really hard to blame the kids on this one.
Reason 1 why 'kids aren't reading': "They spend all their time plugged into to games, music, and TV. I never see kids reading on the bus anymore!"
Let's look at this carefully. I love video games, as I've said many times. The gaming industry is a very exciting place to be right now, as is the music industry and the movie industry. Competition is fierce, innovation is absolutely necessary. Yes, a lot of plots are revisited, but often portrayed in a new way.
I could be wrong in this, but I feel like Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, Hollywood, ABC, Fox, and Disney are all doing something that authors, as a group, are not. They are fighting tooth and nail for the next generation.
Now hold on!
Authors are fighting too. Tooth and Nail.
Here's the difference:
The electronic entertainment industries are fighting for the next generation of parents.
Who buys the movies? The gaming systems? The music?
And kids can hate it when parents pick out books. So you hand your kid Twilight because that's the one book you've heard about for young teens. Get this: a lot of kids don't like Twilight.
There are commercials everywhere, and the book industry simply was not designed to put an ad for HP and the Sorcerer's Stone on every TV in America. Authors are fighting this in a couple of ways:
Internet take over. (I love my bloggers)
Book trailers. (A different, more reachable medium)
A lot of the adults who say that kids aren't reading anymore are the ones only looking at the ads. They see the commercials. They see what's sold, not what's bought.
Reason #2 why 'kids aren't reading': When I was a kid, I wanted stories. Not necessarily pieces of paper with print on them, just stories. Even when I learned to read, I only read books that told me stories I didn't get anywhere else.
Books shouldn't be read for the sake of being read, books should be read because they free our minds with story. So parents that worry that kids aren't reading - and like I've said before, I think they actually are - need to take a look at why. Are your kids getting the stories they want from the books you buy them?
So here's my solutions if you feel your child doesn't read:
Take the kid to the library. Let him (or her) pick out his own book, his own story. Don't try to force educational or popular books onto them. Let them choose.
Also, try to remember that not all kids want to read. They want to play, to run around, to be involved in dance, in sports, in clubs. That's okay. Reading sometimes comes later.
And my solution if you feel like children never read anymore:
Look a little closer. You might be surprised.