Sometimes I write blogs that speak to writers in other ways. No grammar, no sentence structure or developing plots, but what it means to be a writer. What it means to be purveyors of the written word.
As writers, we have an obligation besides being writers—we must instill the love of reading in others. Today’s technology has drawn children and teens away from activities that kids once enjoyed. Instead of board games, it’s Clash of Clans or Minecraft. Instead of picking up a book, it’s the Xbox or PS4 controller.
As the current group of movers and shakers, we have the opportunity to re-introduce the upcoming generations to reading. With all the latest cell phones, notebooks and touch-screen computers hitting the scene, children’s fiction and YA books can rekindle the love of reading—if we can present it in a way that ignites a child’s mind.
My youngest son is eleven, and my oldest grandson is five. Both are huge fans of Minecraft and they have fun playing various games on the iPad too. My son loves to read, having just finished book two in David Baldacci’s Vega Jane series. Since my grandson has a fascination with elephants and dinosaurs, I’ve bought him several books on these topics. Although most of the books are at an adult reading level (he wants photos, not cartoons), my grandson still pages through them carefully and asks what the picture captions say. I instilled the love of reading in my son and grandson early on. Their voracious appetites for books proves that the time I put into reading to the boys and downloading children’s books onto my Kindle and iPad have been well worth it.
When my son reads a book four hundred pages long in two or three days, it tells me that all kids can enjoy reading if someone takes the time to nurture this gift in our children. Writers should talk to children and teens about the wonders of reading and how a great book transports a person into another world. Kids today deal with so many problems, but reading can provide them with a fun, exciting escape. Also, youngsters who read can be an example to their peers. By putting ourselves out there in this fashion, it speaks to adults too. Many times over the years my teaching online, in school, or even just talking with my kids’ friends, has inspired their parents, grandparents, etc. to look into my books as well as other authors’ works. It’s a win-win
Texting has seriously weakened spelling and writing. Acronyms abound and the cell phones have made young people lazy. Many kids don’t even know how to use hardback encyclopedias or dictionaries because it’s too easy to pick up a smartphone or notebook to access the Internet. What would happen if a portion of the worldwide grid went down, or worse, the entire thing? It would be up to older people to teach our children the fundamentals as they were taught to us.
“You mean I have to open that big book and use the alphabet to figure out how to spell a word?”
Oh, the horror!
As authors, we should promote the written word, not so much for profit—all though that is nice—but to keep our languages from dying, to stop the slow burnout of beautiful minds. If kids nowadays can only be reached through electronic devices, then we should push to give them e-books that will have them hitting the turn-page sensor to find out what happens next. However, we should still hand them physical copies of Frankenstein, Moby Dick or even a book from Goosebumps, and say, “Just give it a chance before you toss it aside.” It’s up to us to keep the written word alive, but if we don’t figure out a way to cultivate the desire to read in the next generation, prose may die and writers could become obsolete.
However, an article in Publisher’s Weekly states that more young people are reading than adults are, so maybe writers should talk to the kids and teens about inspiring their elders to read? LOL!
The written word is a gift. Our children are blessings. Let’s bring the two together to create a bright future. If we can ignite a ravenous desire in the younger generation to read, imagine just how fast and big the publishing industry could grow. Imagine how many authors will ignite the creativity of others.
For those of you who struggle with the mechanics of writing—punctuation, grammar, etc.—or if you know a student who has a tough time with these topics, I invite you to check out Avoid Writer’s Hell. It really is written in an easy-to-understand manner with humor—albeit sometimes warped, lol—that writers say has helped them tremendously. PG-13 for students and writers of non-erotic material, and there’s the Rated-R version for those who write the steamy stuff. Christmas is right around the corner!