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Tech is no Competition for Reading

Edward G.

It’s a common notion that modern technology creates competition for books aimed at middle grade kids. That is to say if a kid has a game they can play on their phone or computer, they’re not going to want to read, and therefore will read less. But I think this is a mistaken notion.

Kids who read are kids who read. Either their parents encourage reading or require it or they don’t. Mine didn’t, and if parents don’t encourage it or require it, then no child will naturally choose to read. Reading is mental work.

I wasn’t a big reader as a kid, not novels anyway, yet neither did I didn’t have video games. They didn’t exist. When I was eleven, I did outdoor things instead of reading novels. There was a dump near our apartments which was a never-ending source of interest to me. There was a canal that inspired my friend and I to build a raft. We had a pool in the complex, and so I dreamed endlessly of building a submarine to test out in the deep end.

There was no technological competition for my reading time. I just wasn’t a big reader. Some kids are, and nothing will stop them from buying and reading their books.

My point is there is no need to worry about modern technologies impact on reading. Reading is reading; gaming is gaming; and riding your bike to the dump to find possible submarine parts is just that. Actually, a mid-grade writer can take heart: as an adult, I now read lots of middle-grade fiction. Millions of adults have read “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”

If you write a compelling story with pithy, clever writing, cool characters, and generate an emotional connection with those characters, millions of adults will read your middle grade novel along with their children. When middle grade is good, the whole world knows it and reads it. There’s no competition between mid-grade novels and Xbox games. They’re two different things.