“The content o…

“The content of a book holds the power of education and it is with this power that we can shape our future and change lives. There is no greater weapon than knowledge and no greater source of knowledge than the written word.

“It is my dream that one day, great buildings like this one will exist in every corner of the world so every child can grow up with the opportunity to succeed.”

-Malala Yousufzai, in Birmingham, on the opening of the biggest public library in Europe.


Malala Yousafzai opens Europe’s biggest public library in Birmingham.

Malala Yousafzai opens Europe’s biggest public library in Birmingham.

There are a few who reach eminence at an early age. Malala Yousufzai is surely such a child. With her book releasing soon (I am Malala: the Girl Who stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban is available for pre-order now at http://www.libertybooks.com/bookdetail.aspx?pid=18494 ), the sprightly teenager celebrated her Sweet 16 by giving a speech to the United Nations with millions more listening. her dedication to education and the written word makes her nothing less than a messiah to millions of children like her in Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and other countries.

Her book will be available in October 2013. 

Parents and Children Prefer Reading Print Books Together Over E-Books, Study Finds





Parents and children both prefer reading print books to e-books when they read together, according to a new study released today.

Nearly three-quarters of iPad owners who read e-books with their children prefer reading print books with them to e-books; and about half of children say the same thing. Meanwhile, less than 10% of both children and parents prefer to read e-books when they read together, according to the study produced by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, a New York-based non-profit dedicated to studying and promoting children’s reading. About 40% of children and 20% of parents like reading both equally. (See several charts below.)

Digital Book World first reported preliminary results of the study in May. In a much less authoritative online poll Digital Book World conducted at the time, nearly 90% of our 93 respondents confirmed they preferred reading print books to their children.

“Parent-child interaction around reading is an experience that is treasured,” said Michael Levine, executive director of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center. “Parents of this demographic have had the experience of creating their literacy habits through a lifetime and these are happy memories. They want their children to have that warm, nurturing experience when reading books.”

Levine’s comments suggest a cycle that could last generations — of memories reading with parents as children affecting reading experience decisions. (That is, one reads in print with their children because that’s what they did as a kid; and then that child growing up and reading to their children in print because that’s what they did as a kid.) The ease with which formative and memorable children’s books like Dr. Seuss and the Berenstain Bears are given as gifts to young families only reinforces this notion.

But the convenience of digital reading might be an entry way for digital publishers into this market.

When traveling, more parents prefer reading e-books with their children than print books (about 40% versus about 25%). About four of five parents who read e-books with their children say they “sometimes” or “often” give their children an e-book to read on their own if they are busy.

Still, when it comes to e-books, parents are still somewhat wary — especially when it comes to the fancy bells and whistles commonly found in children’s enhanced e-books.

A majority of parents who read e-books to with their children on their iPads believe that games and videos in e-books do more to distract their child from reading than help them learn to read. Nearly half of parents believe that animation is distracting, too.

“There are issues with a lot of electronic books causing a certain amount of distraction,” said Levine. “They can be very engaging but can also be distracting for young children.”

Despite these findings, publishers of children’s e-books should be encouraged by what the parents in the study didn’t say. Of the 1,226 parents who completed the survey, 462 (38%) own iPads and, of those, 335 (73%) read books to their children on the device. There seems to be a possibility of a market.

“There’s another market that’s been opened here,” said Levine. “There’s no doubt that folks who are developing iPad apps and e-books should be encouraged by the level of activity that we find.”

Children’s e-book and app publishers have been reacting to parents’ perceptions of distracting features and the perceived need for reading experiences that build literacy and a love of reading.

Ruckus Media, a start-up children’s e-book and app publisher, has built a reading platform that emphasizes reading and learning. Wanderful, a reboot of the successful Living Books series from the early 1990s published by Broderbund (now part of trade and educational publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), emphasizes that its e-books lack the kinds of distractions that take children out of the reading experience.

Earlier research from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center suggested that children retain less content during enhanced e-book reading experiences than with print books or non-enhanced e-books.

Growth in revenues for children’s digital publishing has been huge in the early part of 2012, according to figures reported by the Association of American Publishers — driven at least in part by the success of Young Adult e-books such as The Hunger Games. Year-to-date through May, children’s digital publishing revenues are up nearly 300% versus the same period in 2011.





All charts published with permission from The Joan Ganz Cooney Center.

Number of children reading for fun has fallen since 2005, study reveals More than a fifth of children never read in their own time, according to research


Child reads in library

Three in 10 children read daily in their own time, down from four in 10 in 2005, the study found. Photograph: Alamy

The proportion of children reading for pleasure has declined as their time is crowded with other activities, and more than a fifth never read in their own time, according to research published on Friday.

The study, which finds a clear link between reading outside class and high achievement in school, reveals that fewer children are reading comics and magazines.

The research by the National Literacy Trust was based on a study of more than 21,000 children carried out last year.

It finds that text messages are the most commonly read material outside of class.

The proportion of children reading magazines has declined from over three-quarters in 2005 to 57% last year.

When the survey was first conducted in 2005, four in 10 children said they read daily in their own time. That figure is now around three in ten.

The research found that young people were shunning books in favour of TV – 54% of those questioned said they preferred watching TV to reading.

The National Literacy Trust’s director Jonathan Douglas said: “The fact that children are reading less than in 2005 signals a worrying shift in young people’s literacy habits.

“We are calling for the government to back a campaign to halt this reading decline and to give children time to read in their daily lives.”

A Department for Education spokesman said: “The findings of this survey come as no surprise and show that we need to continue our drive to encourage young people to develop a love of reading. In a world of so many distractions for young minds, the place of literature is more important than ever.”


Books are a tonic for the Brain


Reading is not just another leisurely activity or a way of brushing up your literacy skills and factual knowledge – it acts as a tonic for the brain too.

Neuroscientist Susan Greenfield suggests that reading helps to expand attention spans in kids. “Stories have a beginning, a middle and an end – a structure that encourages our brains to think in sequence, to link cause, effect and significance,” she says.

“It is essential to learn this skill as a small child, while the brain has more plasticity, which is why it’s so important for parents to read to their children. The more we do it, the better we get at it,” Greenfield added.

Reading can enrich our relationships by increasing our understanding of other cultures and helping us learn to empathise, the Daily Mail reports.

“In a computer game, you might have to rescue a princess, but you don’t care about her, you just want to win,” explains Greenfield. “But a princess in a book has a past, present and future, she has connections and motivations. We can relate to her. We see the world through her eyes.”

John Stein, emeritus professor of neuroscience at Magdalen College, Oxford, says reading is far from a passive activity. “Reading exercises the whole brain,” he explains. Reading stories to children will help their brains develop the ability to analyse the cause, effect and significance of events

In 2009, a brain-imaging study in the US showed that reading about landscapes, sounds, smells and tastes, activates brain areas tied to these experiences in real life, creating new neural pathways. Simply stated, our brains simulate real experiences, which doesn’t happen when you’re watching TV or playing computer games.

In 2009, University of Sussex researchers showed how six minutes of reading can slash stress levels by more than two-thirds, more than listening to music or going out for a walk.


Interview: Jeff Kinney – Author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Question:Greg seems to get into trouble a lot. Do you like him as a person?

Jeff Kinney:That’s a great question! While I was writing this book, I struggled with the fact that Greg is really not that likable a person. In most books, the protagonist is someone who is quite likable, but Greg does not have many redeeming qualities. I hoped that, despite this, a reader could still enjoy the story.

But there’s always room for a character to grow and learn, so by the end of the book, don’t be surprised if you see some changes in Greg.

Question:Which do you like doing more: writing or drawing cartoons?

Jeff Kinney:Both writing and drawing are a struggle for me. I am cursed with being a very slow illustrator, and this book requires at least 1,000 illustrations. So sometimes, the joy of illustrating is a bit diminished by the amount of time that illustrating takes. What I enjoy is seeing the words and illustrations come together on the page. To move the ideas in my head onto a printed (or Web) page is a real joy.

Question:What do you like to do when you’re not writing or drawing cartoons?

Jeff Kinney:I love to do my “real” work, which is developing new games and content for Funbrain. I also love to spend time with my sons, Will and Grant, and my wife, Julie. I love to play volleyball, which I do twice a week. And I’m always up for the latest reality show on television.

Question:When you were a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

Jeff Kinney:I’ve always wanted to be a cartoonist, and I’ve always had an interest in computer programming. So in a sense, I got to be exactly what I hoped to be when I was younger.

Question:Did you keep a journal when you were growing up?

Jeff Kinney:I didn’t keep a journal when I was younger, but I wish I had. That would have made writing this book a whole lot easier! But about five years ago, I started keeping a journal. The reason I started a journal was because I was wasting too much time watching television and playing video games, and I wasn’t doing anything to pursue my cartooning aspirations. I thought that perhaps if I documented what I did every day, it would “shame” me into spending more time working on my cartoons. Ironically, keeping a journal was what inspired me to create this book. I liked the interplay of words and pictures in my real journal, and I thought it would be fun to create a fictional journal based on my childhood.

I would recommend to any kid out there to keep a journal. Most of my friends can’t remember much about their childhood at all, and they wish they could. Even if you only keep a journal for a short while, I guarantee that you’ll treasure it for the rest of your life.

Question:Do you have any suggestions for how to write a journal?

Jeff Kinney:Yes. Keep your entries short and sweet, so that you don’t feel that you have to write a lot each day. That kind of pressure can become overwhelming, and it can force you to quit. I stopped writing in the “real” journal I kept a few years ago for that very reason – because there was too much pressure to continue.

There’s a whole new type of journal out there today – Web logs, or “blogs.” I think blogs are fascinating. They allow kids to keep a daily journal that their friends, and even people they’ve never met, can read on the Internet. What’s really unique about blogs is that they allow the writer to reach an audience and to get feedback. Feedback is very important to a writer, because it keeps them going. If I were to start-up my personal journal again today, I would consider writing a blog. The downside of a blog is that it’s not private. Some people might not like to have their personal thoughts read by the public.

Question:What the hardest thing about being a writer?

Jeff Kinney:The hardest thing about being a writer is being discriminating about what you put down on paper. It’s very easy to just write everything that comes into your head, and voila! You have a book. But you might not have a very good book.

I had to force myself to exercise discretion when I wroteDiary of a Wimpy Kid. I realized I was writing too quickly, and a lot of material I was writing wasn’t very funny. So I decided that before I started writing the actual book, I was going to come up with 77 “idea pages,” and that I’d only include the best ideas in the book. It ended up taking me four years to fill up my 77 idea pages, but it was worth it. I was able to cut out about 80 percent of the material that wasn’t worth including, and I still had enough ideas for a book that will be 1,800 pages long on the Web.

Question:What’s the best thing about being a writer?

Jeff Kinney:The best thing about being a writer is holding a real, printed book in your hands. When I was in college, I published a book of my cartoons, and I’ll never forget the feeling of thumbing through it. I haven’t yet publishedDiary of a Wimpy Kidin print, but when I do, I expect to feel an enormous sense of satisfaction.

It’s also very fun to receive attention for your work. In college, I was interviewed byThe Washington Postand theBaltimore Sun, and those interviews were highlights of my life.