For decades, FGSR reading labs have developed new projects to encourage reading in society. These various FGSR centres provide a workspace to teams of specialists in several areas for discussing and testing innovative design proposals. In Children’s Literacy Lab we are willing to share with all of you our ideas and doubts by presenting brief texts in which to open a door that leads to reflection written by members of the team.
One of the people that every day enriches the vision and experience of our institution is Elisa Yuste. Elisa is Coordinator of the Reading Encouragement Department at the International Centre for Children's and Young Adults’ Books (CILIJ) of the Fundación Germán Sánchez Ruipérez. She is in charge of analysing and selecting reading materials in different media, as well as member of the team that generates contents for PLEC platform (Reading Project for Schools) which is linked to SOL platform (Reading Guidance Service). She has a B.A in Philology and a M.A in Publishing and in Children´s and Young Adults´ Books and Literature. Elisa has been passionately dealing with the circumstances and variables that must be taken into account when understanding the reading behaviour of teenagers and young adults in order to find the most appropriate channels for them to exercise their right to read.
Young Adults and reading
By Elisa Yuste
Adolescence is a key time to strengthen reading habits. Teenagers and young adults have enough skills to face different types of reading materials in any support; music, movies, magazines and the Internet are present in their daily life, and so they find them especially user-friendly. However, they have lots of options to spend their spare time, and so we should give them some guidance to help them to improve their ability of selecting and reviewing; but always taking into account that at this time reading act has to be, above all, free and unconditional.
On the one hand, when we work reading with teenagers the main aims are: sharing proposals, exchanging opinions and giving them the opportunity to express themselves, communicating their fears and dreams. Sometimes his is something that they prefer to do at somebody else’s story they feel nearby. Activities have to be playful but carefully outlined to achieve these aims and they have also to be related to the subject we are dealing with.
On the other hand, with young adults, proposals have to contribute to make them more critic, give them different perspectives about reality, let them know that any reading is a resource available to help them with human relations, self-knowledge and the development of linguistics, literary and ideological skills. We have also to try to make reading and entertainment go together, and show them that reading is part of our cultural leisure.
In any case, one of the keys is the atmosphere in which to work around reading. It has to be open to discussion, opinions and ideas, and it has also to allow lads to express themselves freely. We have to encourage them to share and discuss about readings; talking to them we will get to know better the profile of the public we are working with.
A way to achieve better results on their growth as readers is organizing activities around focus groups on different subjects, accompanied with a wide range of reading and culture promotion proposals which aim is showing good types of reading materials in any support, such as books or other reading materials launches, screenings, concerts, workshops, talks, debates, shows and so on.
With this public there are some other key aspects in addition to the subject around which the group is created. Firstly, lads’ involvement, they have to become co-creators of contents from the adult’s proposal. Secondly, the use of ICT like a communication channel and like a creation space where they can share their own contents. They have to be interested on what’s going on but also they need to feel themselves protagonists to be really involved. Finally, it’s essential to promote the strengthening of friendship ties, so the group encounters become meeting points.
In a different rank of importance, there are some other ingredients that can be motivating strategies with this public, for example, a competition (with or without prize) from time to time. Teenagers’ and young adults’ lives are full of proofs that let them show and get recognition of their skills; writing, short film, photography or sport contests and competitions may be a call for the development of activities with more ambitious goals.
Once we have a group, the help of its members to spread the different proposals will have no limit; the power of speaking on equal terms to recommend readings is great. In this context, the role of adults is to guide, accompany readers, and give those ideas and suggestions to find their way as reader. Even though the last decision about the choice is on the readers’ hands, adults should show them good and varied materials, closed to their likes and interests, and with different contents and styles. This information would help them to develop their own taste and strengthen their reading habits.