Monday, June 7, 2010

Getting Tech-Savvy Millennials Reading

I've been trying to do a lot more writing recently (not so much on my blog, as you can tell...) but, here's a recent article that I wrote for "Read To Me International" that was recently e-published on the Millennial Generation. You can find it online here:

Getting Tech-Savvy Millennials Reading
"Let's face it—we live in a technologically savvy world. Today, our Millennial Generation teenagers are walking around ichatting and instant messaging while they're supposed to be studying, and highly consumed, if not already addicted, to this phenomenon called Facebook. It's no wonder reading takes a backseat to all of the latest video games, handheld gadgets, and internet phenomenon.

Members of the strongly progressive Millennial Generation were born approximately between the years of 1978 - 2000, according to Strauss and Howe; along with the web, cable, cell phones, and other gadgets galore. The oldest millennials are those just graduating from college and graduate school and entering the work force, with the youngest moving through their teen years.

So, just how do we keep our wired millennials interested and engaged in reading? The answer is easy. Keep it simple and start with the basics:

Ramp up the competition - The millennial generation thrives on competition. Pizza Hut got it right when I was in school back in the ’80s. For every five books read, we got a FREE personal pan pizza. The class that had read the most books by the end of the school year won a pizza party. Food is always a "no-brainer" incentive. Friendly competition where a student's self-confidence can soar is even better.

Make it fun - To promote reading, students and faculty at Ocoee Florida Middle School created a music video called, "Gotta Keep Reading," which got them onto the Oprah Winfrey Show. All of the students, teachers, and administrators brought their favorite books to school and sang and danced in the school's courtyard to a remake of a Black Eyed Peas song. The video is now a YouTube sensation, and the middle school received a full library makeover from Target. What could be more fun than seeing yourself singing and dancing on YouTube with your favorite book in hand while striving for a million hits?

Keep it up-to-date - After graduating as an English major and reading 37 books my last semester of college, I vowed that I would not pick up another book. Ever. What brought me back to reading wasn’t a paperback or even a hardcover – it was the new Amazon Kindle. It's sleek, affordable, and can store hundreds of books in one lightweight gadget. The traditionalist would probably have a hard time conforming to the Kindle, but if you want teens engaged, keep your local libraries and homes up-to-date.

The modern world is a rapidly changing place, full of things that are here one day and gone the next. One constant, however, is that all of us can benefit from the wisdom found in books. So perhaps the take-home message for millennials just needs to change a little ...It may not always be cool to be seen with a book in hand, but it's OK to have a Kindle."


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