Popular reader-centric community Goodreads shared news this week of a new challenge that asks book lovers–especially those in the younger age ranges–to step out of their “reading comfort zones” and try something new. Called Reading Without Walls, the one-month challenge suggests readers seek out great works that feature characters who aren’t demographically like them, cover topics they don’t ordinarily gravitate towards, and even test out a book format that doesn’t ordinarily appeal to them.
One of the startling truths about the digital publishing industry is that young readers have never taken to the format, at least not in the way that one would expect. From the earliest days of widespread e-reader and tablet consumption of ebooks, children and teens have shunned the format, preferring paperback by a wide margin. Multiple surveys over the years uncovered the correlation between tablets or smartphones, and the perception that reading was for academics or self-improvement, while devices were for social media or entertainment.
Of course, young readers are often steered away from audiobooks for a variety of ludicrous reasons, many of which center around the mistaken notion that listening to a book is not the same as reading it. In many classroom settings, students who are provided access to an audiobook are still expected to read along with a print version. This challenge aims to give readers the opportunity to consume a format that they wouldn’t otherwise have tried.
According to a post about the event on Goodreads, “Beginning this month, Reading Without Walls is planned as an annual event every April. It’s meant to expand the range of books children read, but we think it’s a great idea for readers of any age. You can check out the Reading Without Walls website more information, reading lists, kids’ activity books, and more. And if you want to follow along on social media, check out the hashtag #ReadingWithoutWalls.”