In anticipation of the release of The Fallen Star: The Nocturnals #3, author Tracey Hecht shares her thoughts on how books can act like movies to get kids excited about reading.
Fabled Films Press
Books That Act Like Movies by Author TRACEY HECHT
Does your seven- to twelve-year-old like to watch TV? YouTube videos? Movies? Of course they do! And how could they not, when screens are everywhere and content abounds? But, about three years ago I thought to myself, why can’t books come back as a centerpiece of shared entertainment? Why can’t kids enjoy books with their friends the way they do apps or YouTube videos? Why must screens have all the fun?
Can’t we squeeze a book or two into the mix?!
Enter The Nocturnals
That’s why I wrote The Nocturnals, a middle grade series about a nocturnal brigade of animals. There’s Bismark, the loudmouthed, pint-sized sugar glider; Tobin, the gentle, bumbling pangolin; and Dawn, the clear-thinking fox. In each book, the Brigade explores the night realm with a tone and style that makes you feel like you’re “watching” when actually you’re reading. Right now, we’re on the third book, The Fallen Star. the Nocturnal Brigade awakens to find that all of the forest’s pomelos have been mysteriously poisoned. As they investigate the travesty, they encounter Iris, an eerie aye-aye, who claims that monsters from the moon are to blame. With animals rapidly falling ill, including Tobin, the Brigade must find the cure before the pomelo blight threatens to harm them all.
I write all the stories in what I call the 3-2-1. For every three words spoken by Bismark (remember, he’s the loudmouth), there are two words spoken by Tobin (sweet, little pangolin that he is) and one word by Dawn (the wise fox). It’s not literal of course, it’s much more like a ratio of 30-10-5, but the rhythm of the writing and the storytelling itself has a beat and an energy that keeps it snappy and conversational like a show. The story might veer towards intriguing or threatening, thrilling or calming, sweet or sincere, but the rhythm stays the same.
Keeping It Fun
This is important: don't make reading the thing your child has to do to earn something better (a.k.a. “If you read for a half hour, you can watch TV”). This develops reading as an obligation, not as a pleasure. Try instead to build reading into the parts of your day that will make it fun, like before bed—all kids like to postpone bedtime! Or, as an alternative to doing chores: “You can help me empty the dishwasher or you can read while I do it.” Or, with a great snack and time together: “Let's make a big bowl of buttered popcorn and get in bed with our books!”
After all, books are amazing! It’s time they take center screen.
*** A big thank-you to author Tracey Hecht for this guest post. ***
If you haven't read the previous books of The Nocturnals, look for them at your neighborhood library or bookstore. And watch for the release of The Fallen Star on May 2, 2017.