When I left the Teens Reading Digitally panel discussion on Sunday at Annual I was thinking to myself, “Wow, I love hearing how people are pushing the boundaries in order to connect teens to content, and to get them excited about reading and writing.” For example:
- iDrakula author Bekka Black explained how she came up with the idea for her multi-platform novel that highlights the ways in which teens are reading in the digital age. Black joined the panel via Skype and was kind enough to stay throughout the entire session even though she was not face-to-face. One story Black told was about how one night when sitting at a restaurant she noticed a boy and girl (brother and sister) texting with each other as they sat next to one another at the table. Black asked the boy why he was texting his sister when she was sitting right next to him. He replied that that way his father wouldn’t know what they were talking about. Black went on to talk about the different versions of her book – device and traditional print – and what it took to write in the different formats, the similarities and differences in formats, and what it takes to write for teens that are readers of the screen and not necessarily readers of the printed page.
- Supervisor of Library/Media Technology at Pinellas County (FL) Schools Bonnie Kelley, followed Black on the panel. Kelley discussed the Kindle program at Clearwater High School in which every student is given a Kindle. The school purchased approximately 2300 Kindles so that each faculty member and each student would have access. The Kindles are primarily used for classroom sets of books but the content has expanded to include newspapers and textbooks. As the first school system in the country to go one-to-one with the Kindle, the school system had to work with Amazon, and other partners and vendors, in order to make sure that the devices were available to, and would work for, students and teachers. This work with vendors and partners is an example of how schools and libraries can move beyond their traditional framework to guarantee that customers have access to the devices and content that are necessary in the 21st century.
- The panel discussion concluded with a presentation from Jacob Lewis, a co-founder of Figment. Lewis discussed how Figment enables teens to connect with others through writing and reading. Comments from Lewis gave panelists a lot to think about as he talked about what it takes to be successful with and for teens when living in a web-based socially networked world. He had a lot of interesting points to make about the state of publishing and the state of social networking and how these relate to teens and the interactions we have with them. Lewis also discussed Japanese cell phone novels and the role they played in the development and launch of Figment. Lewis’ PowerPoint presentation is available.
In an effort of full disclosure, I was the organizer of the program, as well as a panelist. I started the program by providing an overview of how I see apps as tools for providing teens with opportunities to connect with content. The PowerPoint I used in my presentation is also available.
Thanks to the panelists for a great set of presentations that definitely demonstrated how boundaries are being pushed in the digital reading world. The presentations also gave a glimpse into how teens are reading and writing digitally on all types of devices and in all types of settings.