“Fresh Ink” – Porter Square Books

Fresh Ink

The Children’s Books Section at Porter Square Books, Image courtesy of Rebecca Wells

Is your child a voracious reader or a reluctant reader? The Porter Square Books’ “Fresh Ink” program will be an excellent resource for them either way. This program provides children and teens (ages 7-17) a chance to decide which books appear at Porter Square Books BEFORE publication.

Here’s how it works. Months before publication, publishers send Porter Square Books early copies of books called Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs).

Any child or teen in the “Fresh Ink” program can then pick up an ARC from a pile at Porter Square Books. After your child reads an ARC, they can submit a book review to kidsread@portersquarebooks.com. The review will appear on the Porter Square Books “Fresh Ink Blog” and “Fresh Ink Tumblr.”

Why this is a valuable program for all young readers

For voracious readers, this is a chance to engage more deeply with books and gain extracurricular experience writing reviews. It is precisely this kind of experience which could be valuable if your child is later interested in pursuing an internship with one of the many children’s book publishing companies in Massachusetts.

For your reluctant readers, this program could help foster a recreational reading habit by providing them with more agency in the reading/publishing process. I can’t tell you how many children and teens I’ve met who disliked reading simply because they did not enjoy reading assigned texts for homework. A book, which a child might like in another context, often becomes tedious once a child knows it’s required reading. Sometimes even the style of reading homework, focused on extracting information rather than enjoying a narrative, can stifle an interest in reading.

The “Fresh Ink” program has the potential to remedy this problem since it gives children the chance to choose their reading and to express an opinion about it (which is respected by adults).

It also fosters a deeper and more personal type of literary analysis than they might develop in purely formal academic settings. Rather than trying to approximate a passive academic voice, this type of writing empowers children and teens to develop their own voice (without the pressure of a letter grade).

Through these reviews, young readers can parse their own reactions to a text in an empowered and reflective way. (They do not have to like or respect a book purely because it is a part of the literary canon, and supposedly ‘great literature’). They also have enough time to parse out the potential differences between their own personal taste and literary value of a text. Since the response prompts asks readers what things they like or don’t like about each book, these responses subtly nudges young readers from asking “Do I like or dislike this book?” to asking “Why do I like or dislike this book?” It is this second question which fosters a child’s ability to think (and write) analytically.

On a broader perspective, I am excited by what this program does for both publishing and pedagogy in general. So often, children’s books are marketed not for children themselves but for parents and educators. As a graduate student of children’s literature, I often wonder how often adults make assumptions about what children want or should want to read.  The “Fresh Ink” program seems like it could reveal some valuable insights into the reading choices and responses of actual children (helping us see past those assumptions).

Read on to learn more about “Fresh Ink” and other opportunities in Porter Square!

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