As with many other industries, the last couple quarters have been rough on publishing, with houses downsizing with huge layoffs, closing imprints, and restructuring to bundle imprints together with the same staff. Some smaller publishing houses have closed altogether. Before Christmas, calls went out on many blogs, including mine, for people to put books on their gift lists, to not only help the industry we love, but also to hopefully make more readers.
Reading has a lot of competition today: movies and videogames, mostly. Yet reading is one of the best — and least expensive — pasttimes for children and adults alike. People who don’t read say it’s boring, but those who do, usually fell in love with books when they were kids.
I’ve read that the children’s book segment is actually one of the least-affected by the economic crisis, but it still has been affected. Meanwhile, videogames continue to increase in popularity (not that I have anything against videogames; my husband and I are quite addicted to Rock Band).
So, I applaud British children’s book author Michael Rosen’s new program to get children to read. Along with England’s BBC, Rosen is creating an hour-long program called Just Read that will be designed around encouraging reading in children. Rosen says British school curriculums teach children how to read but not how to enjoy reading, and that’s what he wants to improve on, according to The Guardian newspaper.
Here’s a quote from Rosen, printed in The Guardian’s article (link above): “It’s about putting books at the center of the curriculum, getting children engaging with worlds beyond their own, reading about complex ideas in an enjoyable way.”
I wish him much success, and if any TV producers are reading this, keep an eye on Just Read. Maybe it’s something you can do in the U.S. too.
As for us writers, we can do our part by continuing to write books that, as Rosen says, engage children with worlds beyond their own.
P.S. My husband and I were in Barnes & Noble yesterday, and we were pleasantly surprised at how busy it was. Go buyers!