The following post is by Fiona Ingram and part of a blog tour promoting her new book, The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper. To join the blog tour, see the list of dates posted here.
What makes children want to read, and how do parents encourage them to read, especially in a world where there is a dizzying array of technological devices to draw them away from the printed word. How can one make reading fun in a media driven world where social media and technology have such an impact on the
simple act of reading?
Digital and visual literacies are the new wave of communication specialization. Most people will have technologies readily available not only to communicate but also to create, to manipulate, to design, to self-actualize. Children learn these skills as part of their lives, like language which they learn without realizing they are learning it. Our children are natives of cyberspace—they are digitally well informed. The greatest challenge is moving beyond the glitz and pizzazz of flashy technology to teach true literacy in this new milieu, without losing hold of the basic building blocks of reading the old-fashioned way.
There are many creative ways to get kids to rediscover reading and one of them is by engaging them with something all kids understand: computers.
Many parents see computers as an obstacle to children reading the printed word. Many parents also fear that their children will lose out on the tactile pleasure of handling a real book, of learning to love and cherish firm favorites, and that their concentration will be affected by the instant gratification of technology-driven devices. This is also true where children show distinct signs of illiteracy yet can instantly manage to work a cell phone and tap into the sub-language that defines texting. However, some novel and fun ways of using technology creatively will get kids right where parents want them—reading! Parents can use computers to get kids more interested in reading by letting them create their own ‘books’ and projects.
Empower Your Child
Kids love playing around on computers so turn the idea of reading around—let them create their own story, become an author. What could be more empowering! This will allow them ‘ownership’ of the story, and that’s an irresistible challenge for any child.
The subject can be about them, an incident, or a fictitious character. They’ll not just create it but illustrate it (either their own drawings or using free images available from the Internet), design it and print it out. Parents will be amazed at what happens once the child takes charge of their own project. You can help your child develop the story, getting them to write it out first by hand, and then going through it several times (maybe another family member can also give their input). They can then create the project on the computer.
Share the Results
When their book project is finished, parents can suggest the child hand it in to their grade teacher for inclusion in the school magazine or newspaper. Or perhaps it can be a gift for a grandparent or family member. You could even have it properly bound at a local stationer.
Praise and success are incredibly motivating factors in any child’s development. They’ll automatically feel inspired to achieve more. Now parents can introduce new activities that show printed books in a very novel light.
This is a good time to find a book you both like and, besides reading together, ask your child to suggest alternative actions on the part of certain characters, asking if they agree on how the story is unfolding, and how they would have written the characters’ actions if they disagree. Encouraging a thought process will make your child feel their opinion counts. Once the book is finished, have your child create their own ‘review’ on the computer, print it out and either post or email it to your local bookshop or library. Imagine their pride and delight if the review is published in a local newspaper or put up on the library notice board.
Most successful children’s books and book series have websites with interesting aspects to explore. Is the series set in a real or fantasy place? Do the characters have important choices to make? Don’t be afraid to let your child get onto the computer and read all about the series, the author, the movie, the actors, the settings, and the characters. Ask your child questions about what they have learned and praise their research.
Far from being an obstacle to reading, computers can enable children to think creatively in producing their own literary projects. Taking ownership of something unique and special will encourage a child’s confidence and inspire them to read and research more. Parents can assist their child to achieve the desired results by helping with practical aspects of the book project, by praising their child’s efforts, by involving other family members or teachers, and by reading together with their child.
About the Author
Fiona Ingram is a children’s author, but up until a few years ago, she was a journalist and editor. Something rather unexpected sparked her new career as an author—a family trip to Egypt with her mother and two young nephews. They had a great time and she thought she’d write them a short story as a different kind of souvenir…. Well, one book and a planned book series later, she had changed careers. She has now published Book 3 (The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper) in her middle-grade adventure series Chronicles of the Stone, with many awards for the first book,
The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, and a few for Book 2, The Search for the Stone of Excalibur, and one already for Book 3! She also teaches online novel writing for aspiring authors and she finds that very satisfying. Relaxation time finds her enjoying something creative or artistic, music, books, theatre or ballet. She loves doing research for her book series. Fiona loves animals and has written two animal rescue stories. She has two adorable (naughty) little dogs called Chloe and Pumpkin, and a beautiful black cat called Bertie.
You can find Fiona at –
Author Site: http://www.FionaIngram.com