Ahead of How technology can make reading fun, an event in London, we decided to interview the expert speakers. Sven Huber is founder & CEO of Boolino, creator of reading tools like Boolino Book Box and publisher of the unique literacy resource Fiction Express.
1) Some people think Technology deters kids from reading, with young people choosing to play games and spend time on social media instead. Do you think this is the case?
This can be the case, more with tablets than eReaders. I think that regardless of format, the main goal should be to give children plenty of books to read. By giving a choice, children are more likely to connect and engage and if a child connects with the story and its characters, he or she will be more motivated to read on.
There are other things that can have a positive influence too, for example, showing an interest in the book your child is reading and discussing the story together. There has been always “competing” media around, first the radio, then television and video games and today the internet and apps. I believe it is more about the content and not so much about the book format.
2) What online tools have you seen which effectively encourage the love of reading?
Most readers love to share the books they are reading with friends. Online tools such as blogs, video blogs and websites like Boolino and Wattpad are great platforms for sharing and discovering books.
There are also deeper interactive reading tools which can enrich the experience, for example Fiction Express, the interactive e-book platform which allows readers to decide on the plot by voting online.
Fiction Express authors write a new chapter of a story every week, and at the end give three possible options for how the plot should continue. Young readers then vote online by choosing between the three options and, depending on what the winning vote is, the author writes the next chapter. This is a great example of how readers can become part of the creative process, and it tends to trigger high levels of motivation to follow the story. Children also have the possibility to interact directly with the author through the Fiction Express blog and by commenting or suggesting their own ideas for the ending.
3) What can teachers do to create an atmosphere in which children will read?
Ask the children to bring in their favourite books from home or libraries, and have them explain to the class why they love their books. Then facilitate book sharing. My 7- and 8-year old children discover a lot of books through their friends at school, and these tend to be the books they like most. It is so much more powerful for them to discover books they WANT to read, as opposed to telling them what they HAVE to read.
4) If a child actively hates reading, what do you think their parents and teachers should do?
Understand what topics the child is interested in and find books that focus on that topic. Read together, talk, and discuss the books in detail. Create a fun atmosphere. Routines really help too – parents can suggest reading together every day for 15 minutes as a joint activity. If a child actively hates reading, he or she has not yet discovered the joy of it and it is the parents’ and teachers’ role (in that order!) to facilitate this discovery.
Join us at How technology can make reading fun on 17th May, in London.