The young adult market for good books seems to be in flux right now, with all the major publishers volleying for position. But publishers are not sure what the demand for that market is. Do YAs and Millennials want more fantasy? More super heroes? Zombies? Nonfiction? And if it is nonfiction they’re looking for, what topics are the younger generations interested in?
For me, the decision to write Immersion was less analytical as it was an attempt to redirect the readers’ attention from social media for a moment, to encourage them to take time to enjoy and re-establish an appreciation for the literary arts. And in Detroit, where I now reside, there is a very active movement to do just that. Mainly because the underfunded school district has to think of innovative ways to improve the academic growth of so many students who lack the basic foundation of good reading skills.
My observation in the education arena is not that the schools are failing our students, as much as the economic system is placing our students at risk of not being able to compete in a global labor market. For instance, the Digital Divide exists between those who are fortunate enough to afford computer technology and Internet access at home and those who cannot. There is a difference between a classroom in the inner city, where 30 elementary-school students have no iPads, while in the schools with good funding, high performance, and high enrollment students may have their own assigned iPads that they can take home over the summer for reading assignments.
These factors, along with lack of access to affordable tutors, or something as simple as an in-school library, have served as hindrances in assuring all students have an equal access to a quality education. But, one factor that can tip the balance is the writing community’s desire and drive to provide compelling literature for all to read and engage in.
When one student asked me, “What makes your book different? Why should I read it?” My response was, “Because the characters in this book look and act just like you.” Their reaction resulted in a rousing round of approval. One young lady said, ”I’m buying your book today just because of that!” If that’s all it takes to get our younger readers to consider picking up a book to find answers, or as a source of entertainment, I feel I have accomplished my goal to just get them reading good literature again.