On Teenagers and Books; Americans and Math; Video-visits to Schools.
Teenagers and Books
Kevin Jarrett sent me this, www.ypulse.com/reaching-young-adult-readers/ It is the result of a survey of readers aged 15-24. In general the responses were both reassuring to book people, and showed some of the challenges books face. For example, "Younger Adult book readers live in Two Media Worlds They share many core book reading values with older readers – but are digitally-trained to expect "what I want!" now." For these teenagers and college students, books remain a good choice, but must find their place in a changing media environment. That sounds exactly right to me. The one alarm bell was that this was a survey of young people who already are book fans. The question of course is whether their numbers are changing (for good or ill), and what kinds of answer a larger survey would have gotten if addressed to a random population in that age range.
Math and US (the U.S., and those of US in Children’s Books)
The New York Times today is running this article www.nytimes.com/2008/10/10/education/10math.html about how poorly we treat math as a subject and kids (especially girls) who like math in middle and high school. The only kids who do really well in math in America are immigrants or the children of immgrants — kids who have not been shaped by the dominant American assumption that math is hard, cold, suited to nerds. Here, friends, I believe we in the children’s literature and library world are at fault. Mentioning that one does not like math, or hates math, or did terribly at math takes place so frequently that it almost seems like a password people need to say to be English majors. Math can be hard, it was for me. But when we in the humanities say that it is not as a confession but almost a proud assertion — math belongs to another world, not ours. Remember my suggestion that we put how-to, project books on summer reading lists? What about putting math challenges on summer reading lists? What about setting some cool math problem for the whole school to solve? Why can’t we in children’s literature work to make math cool — even if individually we found it difficult?
Finally, Vicki Cobb was kind enough to tell me about the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration, www.cilc.org/ which facilitates video school visits for museums as well as individuals. I am just getting to know them, but this holds promise for new kinds of author visits.