Many people are bemoaning the fact that now that Mr. Potter has gone off to his eternal Quidditch game, kids will stop reading. The National Endowment for the Arts says only 56.6% of adults will crack a book this year.
As a child I owned forty times as many books as stuffed animals. I went through the entire biography section in my puny school library in a month. I breathe, therefore I read. So its hard for me to think about how kids might need motivating.
But I know not all kids are like me. My son is not. He must be coaxed to read with carefully selected books because he is that elusive reader known as the eleven-year-old boy. But it can be done. He is currently in love with Rick Riordan's The Lightning Thief series. I highly recommend it for anyone trying to get boys to read.
So how can we encourage reading when many adults don't read and see little necessity for it in their busy lives? Our schools may have to take on this mission. This year my daughter participated in a trivia contest called "The Book Battle." It harnesses kids love of competition by having them read a selected list of books and compete in teams to answer trivia questions.
The number of students who signed up was a shock to the librarians who organized the contest. The kids loved it. And if the publishing industry was smart, they would start hosting these contests, donating books, and developing future readers who will buy their products.
As authors, we can help. Many states offer Artist in Residency programs that provide money for writers to go into schools and sponsor writing programs. If we want people reading our work in the future, we need to get kids reading and keep kids reading. End of windy rant.