A few times a year, I get to be a spokesperson. And although I’d rather let my pen do the talking, I must say that speaking out for a good cause is not a waste of time, not at all, not for me.
School and library presentations, book signings are part of the job, and essential – crucial even! – if you want your stories to be read by as many as possible. As a writer, I have an extra responsibility (that’s how I feel, at least) as a reading promoter for children, families, but also for our teachers – the heroes of our future generations!
Now, kids are easy. You show them how wonderful books are and they dig right in. Parents are a little trickier, you’ll have to convince some of them. But teachers? How to convince a teacher that he or she can generate a class full of avid readers?
Let’s start by the popular question of the day: ‘Who likes to read?’ I’m not going to reveal the amount of unrisen hands, I just want to point out that there is hope, there is a way. Especially when we move to the next question: ‘Why?’ And there, right there, we get the answers, the clues to not only solving the mystery, but to reverse reluctance into enthusiasm (or willingness).
Note: not all human beings are likely to become book worms, and there’s no need to convert everybody neither. Though there are magazine, web, newspaper, comic worms and other species out there, ready to devour a good story. BUT! What if you have to share the pleasure of reading with others, and you don’t have it in you? Fake it? Get someone else (a book addict, a literature freak) to fill in for you? Or, what about… An emergency upgrade?
Here are some ideas: A. Visit the Library (again, or for the first time) and explore without boundaries. B. Go to a Bookstore and browse for a potential book you may actually want to read C. Ask your friends what they are reading D. Read books together with friend(s) to initiate a discussion/conversation E. Try to discover your taste by trying (new) bestsellers F. If you like movies, combine that passion with filmed books – alone or with a group of friends. G. Surf the Internet to get a glimpse of what’s happening in Book Land H. Read a biography about your favorite character I. Read book excerpts (Internet) to find out what you’d like J. Let your students (kids) recommend you books and read them together with your class (or at home) K. Find a wonderful book to share with your class (kids) and discuss it with them L. Let your class (kids) make a play or art from a book you’ve all read together M. Let each student (child) present their favorite book and discuss it with the class (your family) N. Write your own story O. Let your students (kids) write their own story P. Share the experience of reading vs writing together with your class (kids) Q. Analyze a book (together or alone) to figure out why it was such a good story or not. R. Make a real book together with your class (kids) – from manuscript till printed copy S. After you’ve done your homework; go on field trips together (with class or your kids)-> A, B, F T. After you’ve done your homework; do projects together (with class or your kids) -> E, G, H, I U. Let your students (kids) come up with ideas how to make reading fun V. Find out what talents each of your students have and put it all together to create a book publication W. If class (or some students) have a published book, work together on PR, promotion & distribution X. Organize author, illustrator, publisher visits at school (highly recommended) Y. Organize Book Festivals, Writing and Reading Contests, Plays… Z. Whatever you do to promote the pleasure of reading, make sure you’re enjoying it in order to pass it on from one ex-reluctant reader to many potential avid readers.