Many of our colleagues, including Scholastic’s Chairman, President and CEO Dick Robinson, are in Bologna, Italy this week for the Bologna Children’s Book Fair (lucky ducks!) But this year’s trip is extra special. Many folks will go home not only talking about the future of distopian YA, but many visitors, publishers and authors will be talking about the call-to-action Dick Robinson delivered today to worldwide children’s book publishers, inviting them to join Scholastic in a campaign for global literacy for all children.
He gave his remarks in front of a group of nearly 500 members of the children’s book industry, reminding everyone that “literacy – the ability to read, write and understand – is the birthright of every child in the world as well as the pathway to succeed in school and to realize a complete life”
Watch Robinson’s remarks here:
We’ve included the full text below:
“Welcome to our 90th Anniversary celebration. All of us children’s book publishers are lucky to be working on the future — for the children who are reading our books today will be the parents and the citizens of the world in 2050. So, as children’s publishers, we are always living in the future, looking forward rather than back.
For those who were in this hall five years ago for our 85th celebration, you remember a world before iphones, a world when J. K. Rowling had two Harry Potter novels left to publish and a time when digital content was not yet a cliché.
But as we begin the second decade of the 21st Century — and for Scholastic, the run-up to our 100th birthday — the printed book may be on its way to becoming a relic. Yet reading has never been more important; for we know that for young people now is a time when reading is the door-opener to the 21st Century.
We know that teachers around the world are better now at getting children to learn to read, to decode, to recognize words and symbols on a page. But even when children can read, they often are not motivated to read. And that is why children’s publishers must provide the great stories, the amazing facts and the astonishing presentations that will fuel the imagination and present information that will help young people understand their inner and outer worlds.
Here is what we believe about literacy and reading in the second decade of the 21st Century:
* We believe that literacy – the ability to read, write and understand – is the birthright of every child in the world as well as the pathway to succeed in school and to realize a complete life.
* We believe that the massive amounts of digital information and images now transmitted daily make it even more important for a young person to know how to analyze, interpret and understand information, to separate fact from opinion, and to have deep respect for logical thinking.
* We believe that literature and drama, whether in printed pages, screens, on stage or film, help young people experience the great stories of emotion and action, leading to a deeper understanding of what it means to be truly human.
* We believe therefore that young people need to learn to read nonfiction for information and literature for imagination.
* We believe that reading widely and reading fluently will produce children who will read more challenging texts for life.
* We believe every child has a right to his own “textual lineage” — a reading and writing autobiography which shows the progress of who he is by connecting to the stories and information he has experienced. This textual lineage will enable all young people to have a reading and writing identity which helps them understand who they are and how they can make their lives better.
* We believe every child should have access to books, computers, e-readers, and text on phones – but access is not enough. Teachers need to provide dynamic, focused instruction which will give young people the skills to read and interpret the information they encounter.
* We believe every child should know how to connect to the great stories of character and feeling which drives all human behavior. Without this heritage, life lacks meaning, coherence, understanding and soul.
* We believe every child should have literacy confidence — the ability to read, write and speak about what he knows, what he feels and who he is.
We must help every child realize the power of literacy – for information to achieve understanding of the world, for imagination to achieve self-knowledge.
Finding the right books is the key – and our creative relationships with all the people in this room and other publishers and authors everywhere help us find together more than 500 million books each year which children around the world receive through our channels.
At a time when the digital revolution is challenging us, we want more than ever to work with you to bring books in print or digital form to all young readers. Tonight we salute you as we affirm our commitment to work together to bring reading and deeper understanding to children around the globe. In our 90th year, thank you for joining in this campaign for literacy and reading in the 21st Century.”
Previously On Our Minds:
* Books are media too
* Scholastic & the Gates Foundation Release Largest-Ever Teacher Survey
* The future of reading, writing, and literacy instruction