The most common word I here when I mention the phrase ‘Reading for pleasure,’ to boys (and some girls) is the word ‘Boring.’
Computer games? Awesome!
Social media? Amazing!
When you ask them why reading is boring, they invariably say they can’t find any books that grab them in the same way that their computers and tablets do. And in today’s techno climate, 97 per cent of teachers say that their pupils prefer reading online to reading books. This is an interesting statistic, because if 97 per cent of pupils are reading books online each day, then at least they are reading something. The truth however, is far different. Of those 97 per cent a huge number do no reading for pleasure at all: Ever. In addition, even if a large group of those pupils do some reading online each day, but don’t read printed books at all, that is a problem. Why? Because it’s been proved that if you only do your reading on screen you won’t be as good at reading as someone who reads on screen AND in books.
In my opinion, the answer is pretty straightforward: Create books that grab these readers and make them want to read more. I have lost count of the times I have seen pupils offered books with covers that are bound to bore them and long-winded texts with pages and pages of print.
Why are Wimpy Kid and Tom Gates so popular? They relate to every child’s day-to-day world and their text is delivered in small chunks that are above everything else…funny. Why are Anthony Horowitz’s books so popular? Although far longer in words they begin with high octane language and the peal stays on the accelerator for pretty much the rest of each book.
OK, I hear you say, but what if pupils struggle with reading and want the same level of action but with a far lower reading age.
I have spent a large time of my writing career, writing books for pupils who find reading hard, can’t find any books that interest them, and are put of by pages and pages of densely packed text.
So when Ransom contacted me and asked me to do a series of action adventures that leap straight into the action, I leapt myself, and so TOXIC was born.
I have written 9 books for this new series and the start of each book launches straight into the action. In addition there is wide spacing between short paragraphs, which gives the reader a sense that this is not a mountain of a book to climb up. It’s more of an action-packed hill.
The books are about deadly computer viruses (VIRUS 21), robots battling the human race (ROBOTS V HUMANS) and Zombies on the loose (ZOMBIE CAMP) among others.
It has been tremendous fun writing these books and focusing on themes and topics that reluctant readers will find interesting and most certainly not ‘boring’.
I hope that pupils and teachers like the books and want to read the whole series. They were written in this spirit, so enjoy!