Friday, November 12, 2010

Gr8 nws 4 txtrs!

I received a series of text message from my elementary-aged sister this week, and while the messages she sent were riddled with misspelled words and textese, there was a part of me that was delighted to know that she felt comfortable enough with SMS to express her thoughts and feelings through the written word.  Yes, her abbreviated substitutions (i.e. "no" for "know" or "wen" for "when") were jarring distractions for me, a relative late-comer to the world of texting.  But, she could have called to speak with me and she didn't, she chose to write.

Despite my initial enthusiasm over my sister's chosen medium of communication, this event left me wondering what sort of impact the early adoption of SMS might have on a child's ability to write properly in the future. Luckily, a quick Google search led me to this 2008 article from Newsweek Magazine which quelled all my fears.  According to Britain's most prolific linguist, David Crystal (author of Txtng: the Gr8 Db8), frequent texting has actually been shown to improve a young person's ability to communicate.

I thought that this conclusion was absolutely fascinating, and yet totally sensible.  We all know that when children are learning to read and write, you can't stop them.  They have discovered this "secret" way to communicate, and their singularity of purpose in becoming literate is absolutely uncanny.  But, somewhere a long the way writing gets so bogged down with rules that we all forget how wonderful it can be.  Libraries are well poised to encourage children to engage in casual writing outside of the classroom.  While many of you have hosted programs ranging from SMS scavenger hunts to creative or journal writing workshops, I thought that the two following websites looked like a great deal of fun! Perhaps you know some reluctant reader/writers who would really get a kick out of these two websites.     

(click on the images to go to the sites)