COOL not CUTE!: Why it's a bad idea to try to champion books by discrediting other media

Why Children's Books Ambassadors Should Not Denigrate Other Media

In a further dispatch on the Cool Not Cute blog, Joanathan Emmett has this to say:

The following is an extract only. Do read the whole piece.

I don't think that ambassadors for books are doing themselves or books any favours by attacking TV, films or video games.... Most children listening will know from first hand experience how appealing and satisfying these other media can be.  So, by attempting to discredit them, an ambassador undermines their own credibility. If an ambassador says they hate something that a child knows and loves, why should a child trust that ambassador's judgment when he or she proclaims that books are something that ought to be loved?

I think it's nearly always better to work with the grain of a child's enthusiasm rather than against it when promoting books. If a child tells you they don't like books, ask them what they do like. If it's TV, ask them about their favourite programmes and why they like them.  Try to engage with and understand their enthusiasm -- this is easy if you like the same programmes yourself. Then, when you understand what it is the child likes about the programme and, perhaps more importantly, when the child has understood that you understand this, tell them about a book they might like that contains the same sort of content.

This approach can be made to work for most children of most ages - but not all. If a child of picture book age says they like a film like Star Wars or a TV show like Ben 10, there's little an ambassador for books can do because, as I've argued in COOL not CUTE, there are no picture books that match the content of Star Wars or Ben 10.  Unfortunately, there are an awful lot of picture book age children that like this sort of content  -- and most of them are boys.