Monday, February 19, 2007

As a contributor, I hope to give my ideas and opinions on our various topics about life stages and situations. Writers use them all the time. Lord, I'm feeling lucky. I seldom get asked my opinion, but I sure have a lot of them. Here, I can just give them!

I've been an art teacher, a black and white artist, a graphic artist and muralist. Now I work making catalogs and as a writer of fantasy and science fiction.

What Rob is talking about below is aliteration. People who know how to read but just don't for one reason or another. Many people worry about teens who don't read. And since Rob has already posted, I'll add my two-bits.

Did you know that no one carried a book into 6 out of every 10 houses in the U.S. last year? Did you know that half of U.S. citizens are illiterate or aliterate? Are you aware we are raising a generation of aliterate children?

Aliterate? The whole concept is mind-bending to me. Someone who can read but doesn't read for the sheer pleasure of immersing themselves in a story? I've learned you can read to you children from the get-go, but by the time they are teens, they might be aliterate. There are many reasons. If you remember, there is a lot of (excuse me) BORING reading required in school rooms. Teens are drawn by other media like electronic games, cell phones, texting, My Space and television with their quick pleasure pay-offs. Sometimes just finding time to rest can be a major teen problem.

~Kylene Beers, a professor of reading at the University of Houston, is one of the few academics that have written about the phenomenon. According to her, there are two types of reading. Efferent reading is purposeful reading, the kind students labor to do in schools. Efferent readers take something useful from the material such as answers for a test. Aesthetic reading is reading for the sheer bliss of it. ~

Love that label. Aesthetic Reading. So how do we create Aesthetic Readers?

Check out this article Getting teens to read by Gwynne Spencer. Her are a few of her comments and suggestions.

~Read aloud to them when you’re a co-passenger in the car or plane.~

~Tell them they’re "not old enough to read it" and you can bet your booties they’ll beg, borrow or steal a copy.~

~Add an allowance bonus of $1 for every half hour they spend in front of the TV with the one-eyed monster turned off, while they read.~

~Take them to the bookstore, the library and the school bookfair and buy them books. If we’re going to win the war on illiteracy or aliteracy, we have to begin with a massive assault on lack of appropriate reading matter. In our world, if we value it, we BUY it.~

As parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, mentors, let's all make sure our children are
Aesthetic Readers. We can give them no greater life-time gift.


damomo4 said...

I'm always amazed when I meet children who don't read. Although, this last winter was an eye opener. I was visiting with a friend in her home and noticed they didn't have any bookshelves in the living areas, and there were no books around. So, I mentioned it to her.

"Oh, we don't have time to read, by the time we get done with work, feeding the kids, cleaning up and getting ready for the next day, it's all we can do to get in an hour of television before we're off to bed."

I was gaga! I have a television in my home, but we use it for occasionaly videos, or a video game, sometimes for a class the kids are taking. I don't even subscribe to cable. There are three 6 foot tall bookcases in my living room, four more in the hall, and at least one in each bedroom and they are all full.

I home school my kids and they always have a book in their hands. If we don't make it to the library every week, the librarian calls to see if we're sick, whether we actually check out books or not.

I'm so naive, I just assumed other families read as much as we do.

Rhobin said...

I have more books than bookcases, even though I frequently give books away. The kids help by coming over and 'borrowiing' books, which translates they want it for their collection. I like having my taste in books approved.

There are many reasons why children don't read, some are physiological like dyslexia. Not having time in busy life schedules sounds lame. You make time for what is important to you. The problem is if reading doesn't start early, it often never starts at all. And as all readers know, you can learn anything if you can read about it. If you can't read, you life is impaired.