Friday, May 20, 2011
WHY KIDS NEED TO WRITE WELL
I am amazed at how technology comes so easily to my children. It's as if they were born with something extra in their brains that all previous generations, including mine, do not have. This new brain addition includes texting capabilities, internet navigation systems, and general electronic gadgetry comprehension. This reality has become more evident in light of the following facts:
Fact: I have to ask my ten-year-old son to help me turn on my TV...every single time. (When did watching TV get so complicated?)
Fact: When I want to listen to music, I have to ask my to my teenager to download music from itunes onto a CD.
Fact: My eight-year-old has to constantly remind me how to take pictures with my cell phone...even though she's shown me a dozen times. I just can't remember!
What does this have to do with writing? Everything! Book writing and publishing has entered a new era. Sales of e-books are gaining ground and even surpassing traditional forms of print. Today's kids are tomorrow's readers, and it is a sure bet that this generation (and probably the next) will be downloading reading material far more often than walking into stores to buy a book off the shelf.
This brings me to two very important points.
First, authors and publishers need to do everything we can to keep up with advancing technology. Kids may be doing the reading, but is our generation who is doing the writing. To remain viable in tomorrow's market, we need to be able to connect with young readers electronically.
Second, today's young readers are tomorrow's authors and publishers. While kids are reading more than ever before, effective writing skills are in danger of extinction. The abundance of technology and the ease with which we now communicate via texting, instant messaging, and email - as well as the trend of using icons rather than words - has led to a "dumbing down" of the written language.
On one hand, authors write to their audience. But as kids' written communication skills diminish, should authors follow that trend? Or should we, instead, bolster kids' skills and spend more time building a strong foundation of language? And if so, whose responsibility is it to do this? Parents? Teachers? Authors? Software and technology developers?
As adults, we must ask these questions: What kind of books will be written a generation from now? And who will write them? In essence, it is vital that today's kids learn not only to read, but also to write - and to write well. So, while we adults may turn to our kids for help in understanding the world of technology, we must also give them the tools necessary to keep the written expression of language alive.