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Wayne State University

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Feb 14 / Dr. D.E Walster

TweensRead Blog Begins

Dr. Dian Walster, Professor

Wayne State University

As I was trying to find a way to begin this blog I started searching on the phrase: “What do kids today like?” What popped up was a posting by Angela Maeirs (2011) on the “12 Most Important Things to Know about Kids Today.” I was taken, not only by the positive aspects of Maeir’s list, but also by the fact it was built upon her experience with a group of 5th graders for World Read-Aloud Day (Maiers, 2011). These were both perfect introductions to a blog focusing on the culture of tweens, their reading and how adults respond to kids and their reading.

This year World Read-Aloud Day is March 4, 2015 (LitWorld, 2015). There are multiple events and activities associated with WRAD. In addition, March 2nd is NEA’s Read Across America Day (NEA, 2015). This year the NEA book is Dr. Seuss’s “Oh the Places We Will Go.” Both of these projects focus on motivating children and young adults to read. Finally, on April 16, 2015 as part of National Library Week is Celebrate Teen Literature Day (YALSA, 2015). These are just three interactive projects that librarians, parents and tweens can become involved with as a way to celebrate reading.

Tweens are defined here as children between the ages of about 9 and 14. Today’s tweens were born in this century. Their world encompasses 2000-2014. They are not Millennials. In fact, they still do not have a name (Caumont, 2014). Some folks call them Generation Z (Wikipedia, n.d.). The U.S. Government coined the term the Homeland Generation (Boysen, 2014). Others simply say homelanders. While a still different approach is the iGeneration (MSN, 2015). There is no consensus on when this generation began. For example, those who use Generation Z say that today (2014/15) they are in the 16-19 year range (Benhamou, 2015). And yet as librarians, parents and educators we live and work with these kids every day. We need to start thinking about who they are and how they might be the same or different from previous generations (Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y, the Millennials, etc.). What is today’s Tween culture and how can adults respond to their reading needs and preferences?

One way is to learn about alternate resources and materials. For example, the U.S. Library of Congress supports the read.gov site which features books and related information for kids, teens, adults, educators and parents. On the kids page, is a 27 part series called “The Exquisite Corpse Adventure” written by outstanding children’s authors and illustrators. The first of the series was created by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen. Developed exclusively for the National Center for the Book, all 27 episodes can be read or listened to at http://www.read.gov/exquisite-corpse/ . “An Exquisite Corpse is an old game in which people write a phrase on a sheet of paper, fold it over to conceal part of it and pass it on to the next player to do the same. The game ends when someone finishes the story, which is then read aloud.” (Library of Congress, n.d.)

The TweensRead blog will address a range of issues from the culture of children and their reading to specific types of reading such as long standing series, graphic novels to ways to motivate kids to read. It is an eclectic collection of postings from the students and faculty in the Children’s Literature for Grades 4-8 course. For the 2015 series there will be three focal points:

  • The culture of children and the culture of adults
  • Non-fiction for children
  • Motivating kids to read

There is no question that many kids read and that they like to read. However, there is great variation among the children and young adults who are tweens. They can use encouragement to continue reading both as a part of their educational development and for entertainment. This blog has been created to help librarians, parents, educators and other adults with ideas to support tweens and their reading.

References

Benhamou, Lawrence. (2015). Generation Z: Born in the digital age. http://news.yahoo.com/generation-z-born-digital-age-160347762.html;_ylt=AwrBJSD_l9tUgjEAUgvQtDMD

Boysen, Anne. (2014). It’s official, The White House calls them the “Homeland Generation”. Retrieved from: http://afterthemillennials.com/2014/10/22/its-official-the-white-house-calls-them-homeland-generation/

Caumont, Andrea. (2014). What would you name today’s youngest generation of Americans. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/03/12/what-would-you-name-todays-youngest-generation-of-americans/

Library of Congress. (n.d.). The exquisite corpse adventure. Retrieved from: http://www.read.gov/exquisite-corpse/

LitWorld. (2015). World Read-Aloud Day. Retrieved from: http://www.litworld.org/wrad/

Maiers, Angela. (2011). 12 most important things to know about kids today. Retrieved from: http://www.angelamaiers.com/2011/09/the-12-most-important-things-to-know-about-kids-of-today/

Maiers, Angela. (2011). Meet my co-ambassadors for World Read-Aloud Day. Retrieved from: http://www.angelamaiers.com/2011/03/meet-my-co-ambassadors-for-world-read-aloud-day-iowa.html

MSN. KOAT Albuquerque. (2015). iGeneration comes with new parenting challenges. Retrieved from: http://www.msn.com/en-us/video/watch/igeneration-comes-with-new-parenting-challenges/vp-6f841219-d51f-4645-9bb6-372498df55c9

National Education Association (NEA). (2015). Read across America. Retrieved from: http://www.nea.org/grants/886.htm

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Generation Z. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_Z

Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). (2015). Celebrate teen literature day. Retrieved from: http://wikis.ala.org/yalsa/index.php/Celebrate_Teen_Literature_Day