Should Children Be Encouraged To Read By Any Means?
This was the title of the dissertation I wrote during my third year of my undergraduate degree and was a slightly more obscure topic for an illustrator. I have always really enjoyed writing essays and investigations and reports since I was in school. I did a history A level which was all essay based which I loved, I did an investigation for Welsh Baccalaureate based on how the language we speak affects the way we think and so the idea of a 5000 word dissertation didn't faze me at all.
I don't find the traditional arty essay of researching and comparing two different artists or two different pieces of work very stimulating at all. I find it kinda boring and so I knew immediately it wasn't the road I was going to go down for my essay.
The way I approached the topic was from my starting point; thinking about the move in trends from traditional reading books to e books and e readers. When coming up with my initial proposal, I wanted to approach the essay in such a way that investigated why the move was happening and whether e books were bad for a child. In the end, the essay transformed into discussing and investigating whether children should just read in whatever way encourages them to read more, develop a love of reading and make more avid readers.
When writing my dissertation, I did a lot of secondary research from research papers on a similar topic, articles, reports and other essays and I also did my own primary research. The research I instigated myself was a series of interviews and questions with a variety of people on their opinions of children's reading habits and how they were changing. I spoke to parents of children under 17, teachers, learning support, people who work with disadvantaged children, publishers of children's literatures, children's authors and fellow children's book illustrators. This was massively influential to my dissertation because the opinions of the people I knew and the people I spoke to backed up the general consensus if the reports I found and what I had imagined the results might look like when I started my research.
I started my project by exploring the way children learn to read, scientifically through our genes and biology from babies teething on soft cardboard books, learning how to hold a book the correct way up, learning to read left to right, from top to bottom right through to learning new words every day and becoming readers.
After deciphering all the research I found and the primary research I conducted myself about the opinions of people on the change in the children's book market and how they read, I also looked into the stats and figures of the markets themselves which showed on the whole that the e reader market is growing rapidly and that more children do tend to now want to try digital readers, simply because of the fascination with technology.
Finally, I discussed my own opinions and my own experiences with my parents. Both my brother and I are avid readers and have been since we could handle a book, something my parents attribute to constantly supplying us with new books, having books at an arms length at all times, including in the car and always reading with us at bedtime as children. This I think is why neither me nor my brother have ever been interested in reading with anything other than a traditional print book, there is nothing quite like the feel of a solid book in your hands and turning the pages yourself.
In the end, my conclusion was as I had predicted at the beginning of the process; that at the end of the day, as long as we are raising a nation of children who enjoy reading and are competent readers, it doesn't matter what platform they do it on, so long as they are enthusiastic about it.
It was a really interesting process writing my dissertation and even though it was not the traditional illustrator essay, it was really engaging to write and I would encourage everyone to break away from the 'compare and contrast two artists/pieces of artwork' model of creative industry essay.