Reaching Teens with Reading in Michigan

February 18, 2011 at 3:25 pm 16 comments

Linda S. Mah, writing for the Kalamazoo Gazette, reports on the recent Youth Literature Seminar organized by the Kalamazoo Public Library and held at Western Michigan University’s Fetzer Center:

Linda Braun, president of the Young Adult Library Services Association, and James A. Owen, a novelist and comic-book publisher and artist, both talked about alternative ways to engage young adults in reading.

Ask a teenager what they’ve read during the day, and they’ll often respond that they haven’t read anything, Braun told the teachers, librarians and others attending the seminar[.] That’s because, as far as they’re concerned, if they’re not reading a novel or reading for school, then they haven’t read.

Braun talks about reconceptualizing what “reading” includes, like SMS messages, blog entries, and Facebook or Twitter status updates. This is language that teenagers are coded to understand, and educators and librarians must attempt to understand them as well in order to drawn them into the literary conversation.

James A. OwenOwens, author of “Here, There Be Dragons” and other books in the Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica series, echoed that point, noting that the latest electronic devices will give readers new options. Four comic-book publishers, he said, recently signed agreements with a computer company to create a format that will display full-page graphic displays of comic books. That technology will have implications for picture books as well, he said.

“They used to say, ‘You can’t curl up with a computer the way that you can with a book,’” Owens said. “You can now.”

As Hwa Chong progresses in its commitment to be a future school, it is incumbent upon the teachers and staff to incorporate these technologies into inculcating a lifelong love for reading. Secondary Two and Three students are very fortunate this year to be introduced to a plethora of new media as part of the FS programme.

Read the full article here.

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Entry filed under: Recreational Reading.

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16 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Chua Zhong Zhi  |  February 19, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    I agree with what Linda Braun and James A. Owen are saying. I feel that teenagers like me are getting more attracted to the latest electronics that are found on the internet. With the use of high-tech technology in this 21st century, more people are moving toward using electronic devices to “write”, play games, and now even to read. I’ve began to realize that many of my friends have began to read online comics and nowadays, I hardly see anyone reading comics books outside of the library. I think that teenagers feel more comfortable using the laptop to read a book, rather than to read a physical book.

    However there are also many negative points about reading a book using the computer. After several long hours of reading, we might get glued to the screen, which would in turn affect our vision. I believe that the older generation would prefer to read a physical book, the way they are used to, and I also feel that it is the best way to read a book.

    Chua Zhong Zhi (08) 2A2

    Reply
  • 2. Ryan Ong Jiehan  |  February 21, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    I find what both Linda Braun, president of the Young Adult Library Services Association, and James A. Owen, a novelist and comic-book publisher and artist opinion on how students nowadays no longer spend time reading and increasing their knowledge extremely true. Instead, They will spend more of their precious time gaming away on all the cool and trendy devices that have been invented.

    Reading has been sort of thrown aside of students’ daily life now. In the past whenever people face problems, they will go to libraries to seek help by searching through books. Now the generation is different, people tend to use the internet to find information, just one click and all the information comes out.

    I however feel that by reading books is still a very good practice and it beats reading using a computer as the computer might damage our eyesight. A book can be brought all around, wherever you go, but an electronic device, has to be plugged into a power socket to charge it’s battery after it is used for a short period of time.

    Reply
  • 3. Soon Wei Jun(23) 2P4  |  February 22, 2011 at 8:34 am

    Personally, I agree with both of them that teenagers nowadays are getting more and more attracted/dependent on the electronic gadgets. The electronic gadgets can be used to play games, surf the Net to look for information, a total different world compared to books.

    On the other hand, there are also some bad points which affect us. Some of us may be using the computer for the wrong purposes, such as play games or chatting with friends. These factors will caused to be “sticked” to the computer screen and we will not want to leave our seat at all. This will be bad for us, either physically or mentally.

    Reply
  • 4. Lim Zheng Xiang  |  February 22, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    I agree with the statements made by Linda Braun and James A. Owens. I feel that nowadays, technology has been improving rapidly and that we are making use of modern world technology these days. Thus, more and more people are using computers and other 21st century applications to surf the net, play online games and even read their favourite stories which were uploaded online and they could read it within a few clicks.
    Now, books with thick pieces of paper are not well-liked as teenagers are unable to sit quietly and hold a book and read as we are addicted to online games and networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Actually, I think that online reading have a few advantages such as: when we are unable to fathom a meaning of a word, we could easily search for its meanings in just a few clicks compared to using the dictionary which, in my opinion, is very tedious.
    Now that Hwa Chong introduced a future school programme, I feel that teenagers from our school are given more chance to search for their favourite stories online, which cultivates a habit of reading stories online instead of reading them from a book. However, reading stories online could have negative implications like spoiling our eyesight when we spend too long in front of the computer reading. Reading stories online also means that we would be wasting precious electricity when we switch on the computer.
    Thus, I feel that we should balance out between reading stories online and through books as this not only allows us to catch up with modern technology while cultivating a good habit of reading from a book, which, in my opinion, is a better platform of reading.

    Reply
  • 5. Darryl Hwang  |  February 24, 2011 at 10:47 am

    I agree with that teenagers nowadays are getting more and more attracted to electronic devises. Take my class as an example, most of my classmates hold latest mobile phones, such as the iPhone 4. Adding on, all of my classmates own a laptop of their own. 1 reason why people seem more dependent on such electronic gadgets is because of the convenience it brings to people. With a click or touch, we have access to the internet which is so vast. Information that is needed can be easily gotten through search engines like
    ‘Google’ I also agree that people nowadays tend to read more online than physically on a book. One example is me myself. When I was told to read the book “To Kill A Mockingbird”, although I had the book, I searched for an online copy instead. I seem to find that reading something of a computer is much easier then reading a hardcopy. This is why I prefer too study with notes in softcopy instead of the printed notes in hardcopy. This probably proves the point of over reliance of eletronic gadgets.

    Reply
  • 6. Tan Ye Kai (2a232)  |  February 24, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    I agree wholeheartedly with the article on reaching out to teens to read in a different way, and also the views of Linda Braun and James A.Owen.

    As a teenager ( a especially busy one) myself, I completely understand why we do not read books nowadays , but instead read more through sms, blogs, websites and social networking sites. This is primarily due to the overly busy schedules of teenagers in modern times. With all the homework, assignments, projects etc that teenagers have to cope with, very few of actually have time to read a book. The little time that we have left are mostly spent going through social networking sites or trying to “relax” after a hash day of work through playing online games. As a result, many teenagers end up not reading completely.

    According to Linda Braun and James A.Owen, reading through sms, social networking sites and blogs, are considered reading and I totally agree with that. When we read sms, we are still going through a text and might be able to learn more from there. Also, social networking sites offer users to post their comments on the internet and would therefore allow us to be able to learn from the comments posted. In this way, we actually read a lot everyday, perhaps even more then we did before!

    With regards to the future school program that has been set up for the secondary 2 and 3 cohort in Hwa Chong Institution, I feel that it has been especially successful in getting us to read more. And I am not just talking about reading English , but also reading Chinese. During our Language Arts lessons, we are given the opportunity to read and comment on our friend’s blog. This way,we are also reading and learning from our friends. During our Chinese lessons, even though we do not use the computer as much, we are still given the chance to read and learn using the internet when we go to the computer lab for our lessons.

    Since my friends have already stated the pros and cons of using our laptops to learn, I will not be repeating that again. Instead, I would just like to suggest that due to the effects of modernization, that instead of using our laptops all the time , we should still try to encourage people to read using traditional means like reading a book,

    Reply
  • 7. Jovian Tan ( 2A231 )  |  February 24, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    Personally, I do not really agree with the views of Linda Braun and James A.Owen. Even though they are quite true that many teenagers do not read books and instead focus their time on social and gaming sites such as Facebook and etc. However, I feel that there is also still a large number of teenagers which enjoy going to the libraries to borrow a book to read instead of reading it online within a few clicks. Take my sister as an example, she still goes to the library once a fortnight despite her busy schedule.

    I also think that reading a book itself would be much productive and effective than getting it online. When using the computers, teenagers have a tendency of getting distracted by games or Facebook and might even “multi-task”. ( For e.g. listening to music or watching videos while reading ) Also, a book is small and light. Therefore, it can be brought around everyone and can be taken out when taking a break or waiting for something. Thus, I feel that reading a book itself is much better than getting the book online.

    Reply
  • 8. Alex Peng (2P418)  |  February 25, 2011 at 10:59 am

    I agree that teenagers nowadays are attracted to electronic gadgets. They use them daily, it it almost becomes a daily necessity for them. This is because Teenagers are attracted to interactive items, such as the computer and iPhones. I feel that Hwa Chong taking this step to having the Future School Programme is really good, but it must have some limits. Students sometimes get to distracted by other sites on the internet, and thus distrupts their learning process. I feel that in order to do well, and learn well, we must first have a positive learning attitude, and the school must inculcate that attitude in us.
    All in all, i still feel that learning the “traditional way” is much better. Not only do we not get distracted too much, but we can also learn more. The environment that we learn in is also better. As technology is advancing day by day, we get lazier and lazier. Hardwork is the key to success, so we should take the initiative and work hard.

    Reply
  • 9. Leow Yong Heng (2p412)  |  February 26, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    I think that we are reading everyday. As Linda Braun had said that reading includes sms messages, blog entries, and facebook or twitter status updates. However, I think that teenagers do not read books often as they are sometimes too busy or are too lazy to find a time to read one. Even if teenagers were to read a book, they would usually go online to read one as it is more convenient than walking all the way to a library to get one.
    Technology nowadays are causing us to become more and more complacent. We are starting to depend too much on technology and do less manual work. Though there are advantages of using technology, there are also disadvantages. One example is when we use the computer to read a book, it means that we are starring at the computer for a long time and this could result in our eyesight being affected.

    Reply
  • 10. tan shaowei  |  February 26, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    i agree with both of them. i think that even though the computer can be good in certain areas. however, many students can abuse this by playing games and looking at other things not related to the lesson.
    using computers can affect some of our studies and so using a computer in class can have advantages and disadvantages.

    Reply
  • 11. Glenn Tan  |  February 27, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    Personally, I do not really agree with the Linda Braun and James Owen.I would not deny the fact that they are true about many teenagers do not read books and instead focus their time on social and gaming sites such as Facebook and etc. However, I feel that there are also a large number of teenagers who read frequently such that the glasses they wear have lenses thick enough to be “bullet-proof”. Even me, if I happen to pick up a good book on a topic that I like, I would definitely borrow it and read it. There are also teenagers who read books to gain knowledge on certain topics or to get information for their projects. My siblings and cousins are also examples of teenager who still reads actively. Whenever we see each other, we would update each other on the books we read and whether it was a good book or not. We will also exchange or borrow books from each other if we bought the book.

    I also think that reading a book itself would be much productive and effective than reading it online. When using the computers, teenagers have a tendency of getting distracted very easily. They tend to open several windows or tabs with games or social networking websites on it. This may cause the person reading to turn their attention to these unproductive activities. A book is also very convenient and we can take it out to read when we are not at home for example during lunch breaks or even when we are on the journey from school back home.

    Reply
  • 12. Koh Jing Yuan(2A217)  |  February 28, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    I agree that youth these days are being more attracted to the latest electronic gadgets and they hardly ever read books. My classmates are hardly seen reading and instead they are always playing computer games. Some youths think that by looking at comments on their social network site profiles is considered reading but I think that those should not be considered reading. What would be considered reading would be like reading a short story to even reading a short newspaper article. The future school program definitely has advantages but it also has disadvantages which would be that student tend to go to websites unrelated to the lessons being taught and they become distracted and not pay attention to the lesson

    Reply
  • 13. Tan Jun Jie  |  March 1, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    I feel that maybe reading on a computer might not be a bad idea after all. You see, I am a teenager myself and I would think that books are without a doubt, boring. Unless it is filled with pictures, but those books are not suitable for me anymore. It does not fit my age and the language used are to shallow for me to learn much, so maybe teenagers might use technology to mix with reading, perhaps create an application, a book application, consisting of flash animations to increase students understanding on books and how important it is, because teenagers might not have the time to sit down and relax and try to read a book, because even me myself will feel discouraged to read a boring book with many pages, small words and difficult to understand meanings and words.

    Reply
  • 14. Tan Yan Shen  |  March 1, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    I agree with Linda Braun and James A. Owen, to a certain extent. Teenagers use electronic gadgets for gaming and socilizing purposes, and the occational research and homework. Hence, they would not bother to be around something they visualise as “old-fashioned” , like he books, or even comics, as they feel that they are too old for them. As a result, even using electronic gadgets would not help much. Also, how are they going to “flip the page”? It would be very troublesome to zoom in and out, and go to the next page, which might take some time to load. As a result, many people have lost their interest at the first page already.

    Reply
  • 15. Chen Bo Han  |  August 16, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    I only agree to a certain extent. I am a very traditional person, and believe that all is original should be kept so if it is good. In our current fast paced society, there definitely will be times when we need to use sms-english but I dare say 99.99 percent of our time we should be using proper, accurate English. We should not be expecting the adults to try to understand us, we should be asking ourselves why can’t we stick with the original when we ourselves know its the best. Come think of it, we rarely use sms-english, on facebook, etc. We must still use proper English on paper-work, official documents, so why not we use it all the time? It will still benefit us.

    Reply
  • 16. Zhu Zehao  |  August 18, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    I agree with Lina Braun and James A.Owen that we are in a technological age and we often rely on modern technologies in our daily lives. Teenagers spend most of their time surfing the internet or playing games on their game consoles. They also rely on online sources for their research and projects. They are attracted to the interesting and creative animations available on websites and thus the boring and unchanging pages of a book do not appeal to them.

    However, there are also negative sides to reading and books on the computer or other form of electronic devices. For example, staring at the screen for a long period of time will affect our eyes and in the long run, our vision in a negative way. I believe that there needs to be some moderation between using electronic devices and books for reading. There are two sides to every coin and we should only use the better one.

    Reply

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