Naked Reading: Chapter 2

I’d always meant to take this class anyway, but the specific incident that prompted me to take it NOW and not in another semester or two was the feedback we got from our focus groups at the end of our summer reading program this last summer.  It was clear that tweens were being overlooked in our overall services.

The intro to the second chapter of Naked Reading reminded me of the older teens we had questioned, however.  It was actually rather humorous to be surrounded by a good dozen young adults and have them argue that no! they aren’t readers! when this very same group were the ones who founded and now run our Animanga club.  Normally, I don’t argue with kids when we are supposed to be asking for their opinions in a focus group, but I just couldn’t let that go completely, so I kept making the questions* more specific.  Do you read manga? Do you talk about the manga you read?  Even when I was able to get an affirmative answer, they had a qualification for every “yes” that they thought made it a “no” – such as, we read manga online, not stuff checked out from the library.  So, like Erin, they were clearly readers, but didn’t see themselves as such.

It makes me wonder when that starts, and what we can do about it. I think a lot of combatting it involves, as Lesesne says, acknowledging the value of all kinds of reading – not just the novels that win Newberys, and not just novels, period.  Unfortunately, I suspect even 17 is rather too old to try to get kids to unlearn what we’ve taught them.  With older teens, I mostly hope to just give them the chance to enjoy reading without pressuring them to call it that.  But while it’s best to start young, when kids are first reading, that’s difficult as well, because there is so much focus on learning the process and that tends to take special print material.  So while I will do what I can to encourage younger kids to continue reading non-fiction, magazines, Captain Underpants, and other materials that their teachers might not count towards their literature grades, I suspect that the tween years hold a particular opportunity to encourage the joy of reading – in all it’s forms – and to teach kids that they too, are readers.

*The focus group was part of the California State Library Summer Reading Program Outcomes Committee’s pilot program.  (yeah, a mouthful)  Which means you can read the questions at their site, in anyone is interested.  They are mostly about being social readers; I’m sure I’ll get into the reasons why before I’m done with the reflective essays.

California Library Association (2010). Survey and Focus Group Questions for Download. Retrieved from http://www.cla-net.org/summer-reading/outcome_questions.php

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