To Foster a Love for Reading, Think Outside the Book


The principal at my daughter’s school has been waxing poetic lately about the 40 Developmental Assets for Adolescents, as identified by the Search Institute, a research organization with a mission to discover “what kids need to succeed.” Number 25 of the developmental assets is reading for pleasure. For librarians, this comes as no surprise. The million dollar question, though, is how do we get kids reading more, especially at the adolescent stage when the voluntary choice to read begins to wane?

It’s time to think outside the book…

…and graphic novel (though these are great)…

…and magazine (not sure that these count as sustained reading when they are formatted as bits and bites of information).

So, what other modes can give that same sense of sustained reading (I’ll call this a state of flow) that really good books (including graphic novels) so often do?

Here are some ideas:

  • Text adventure games. These harken back to the days of DOS, and I think any self-proclaimed gaming geek will be familiar with them. This is reading plus gaming, which makes for a powerful literacy tool. You can still play some of the classics, including Colossal Cave Adventure and Zork. Additional titles can be found here (you can even create your own). Text adventures are a great way to bridge gaming literacy with traditional literacy.
  • Story exploration games. Consider these a more modern take on the text adventure games with multimedia and (sometimes) transmedia elements. They are story-driven, so combine traditional reading with the multimodality of more contemporary gaming literacy (including visual, information, media literacies). Here are some examples:
    1. Gone Home
    2. The Stanley Parable
    3. The Minims
    4. Minecraft: Story Mode
    5. Cloud Chamber
    6. For other titles, check out Games for Change
  • Interactive fiction. Technically, text adventure games and story exploration games can be thought of as interactive fiction (and are sometimes categorized that way). For the purpose of this post, I am using the interactive fiction category to include titles that are not necessarily games, though most include gaming elements. Interactive fiction comes in many flavors, from “choose your own adventure,” hypertext, multi-ending stories to digital novels and multimodal audiobooks. Reading (or narration) is a central component of interactive fiction. Here are some examples:
    1. Inanimate Alice
    2. Hilda Bewildered
    3. Rockford’s Rock Opera
    4. Beneath Floes
    5. Flight Paths
  • Story making. Writing is an active approach to reading, so what better way to foster recreational reading than to foster recreational writing? Internet technologies make it so easy. My favorite story making tools include Storybird, My StoryMaker (Carnegie Library), and Drawp (also, Drawp for School). For a list of more tools, click here.
  • Transmedia franchises. Hollywood has handed librarians a pot of gold with the proliferation of transmedia franchises. We can now enter a story world through a movie, a video game, or a social media platform (and more) before we ever discover the book. The Game of Thrones franchise is a massively popular example of this, as is Star Wars. Take advantage of transmedia franchises by helping students make connections between the story worlds, so that they eventually land on the book.

If you want to explore more innovative ways of thinking about reading “outside the book,” be sure to check out my upcoming publication, titled Transmedia Storytelling: The Librarian’s Guide (click on the image below to find out more):

iNtegrating Technology for inQuiry (The NTeQ Model)

NTeQ Philosophy

NTeQ Philosophy

What is the NTeQ model?

It’s a ten-step lesson design process for integrating technology into problem-based, inquiry-based, or project-based learning. The NTeQ model is a student-centered approach to lesson planning that focuses on the use of technology as a learning tool, rather than an instructional delivery or drill and practice tool.

NTeQ Model

How Does It Work?

It all begins with the learning objectives (which are derived from various standards, of course). Technology integration begins in the second step by matching computer or application functions to the action verbs of the learning objectives. The ability to match function to objectives is key to a successful problem-based lesson — students use the applications as tools to solve a problem. For example:

Action Verb from Learning Objective Computer or Application Functions
Analyze Analyzing data with a spreadsheet (formulas and graphs); identifying common characteristics of concepts with concept mapping software


Arrange, sequence, tabulate Arranging events in chronological order with a table; Sequencing audio and video in a screencast
Assess, evaluate, judge Weighing the pros and cons of a real-world problem in a dilemma-based video game (e.g., Collapsus) to  identify possible solutions
Collaborate, cooperate Using collaborative software to complete a group project
Plan, design Using a storyboarding tool (e.g., Storyboard That, graphic organizer in word processing) to plan a digital story or design a game
Synthesize Using presentation or screencasting software to teach a topic to fellow students

After identifying the technology tool(s) that best match the learning objectives, the central problem that students will focus on during the lesson is established. From there, the project or product that will demonstrate student learning is determined, the research and computer activities are developed, and the assessments are designed to complete the lesson planning process.

To learn more about the NTeQ Model, read Integrating Computer Technology into The Classroom (Morrison and Lowther, 2010).

Why Use the NTeQ Model?

The NTeQ Model is an approach to integrating technology based on sound instructional design principles. This approach is particularly well-suited to the inquiry-based learning methods that are integral to the types of literacies that librarians currently teach. I learned how to use this model in my IDT studies, and I highly recommend it as a methodical approach to technology integration that, if implemented properly, creates a learning environment that is student-centered and teacher-facilitated.