WRADvocate Profile: Nikki Etolen

Nikki Etolen is one of our amazing World Read Aloud Day Advocates (WRADvocates, for short) who will be rallying for WRAD this year. Based out of Pennsylvania, she's got some amazing things planned to contribute to this exciting day. Read on to learn more about Nikki:


 1. Can you share some of your earliest memories of reading and how they impacted you?

I remember reading in my room at a relatively young age. By around eight, I was reading mystery and horror books, which was funny because I couldn’t stand scary movies. I lived in an area where there weren’t a lot of kids, so after school and weekends I was pretty much on my own for entertainment. Reading opened up whole new worlds to me and made me feel less lonely.

2. What advice would you give to teachers, parents and caregivers who want to reach their struggling readers?

Let them pick their own books. I think that is the single most important thing anyone can do for a kid. We’re expected to read so many standard books throughout our school years, and while they may be “classics,” not every kid is going to be interested in every book put in front of them. Forced reading is a bane to encouraging lifelong reading habits.

3. What book do you think young people should not miss?
This is difficult to answer because there are so many books for young people that are just incredible, and the “should not miss” book really depends on their age. For me, I’d have to say “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” because it really expands the imagination and teaches important lessons. I also think kids can really relate to Alice, who is often too big or to small to do something, but never quite just right. We always tell our kids “you’re too young to do that” or “you’re old enough to know better,” but never “you are exactly the right age for this.”

4. What do you think the future holds for readers?

I think with all the choices in formats, now is a great time to be a reader. I know a lot of readers are wary of the e-book, but it has opened up a whole new world of literature as more people can self-publish. Kids have more choices than ever before, and I think this trend will continue for a long time. Books like Harry Potter,  Artemis Fowl, Inkheart, and other adventures are inspiring a whole new generation of readers who may grow up to write their own epic adventures.

5. Will you share with us some final meditations on the power of the read aloud and of reading in general to the emotional lives of children and for all people?

 I think reading aloud to your children is an incredible way to bond with them at an early age. I’ve been reading to my son since before he was even born, and now that he’s getting older, he enjoys reading to me. Hearing him progress and read passages that are more complicated makes me so proud because I know that while his teachers are responsible for instilling the basic skills necessary to read, I laid all the groundwork to make sure he actually enjoys it.

To learn more about Nikki, follow her on Twitter on @prettynameless and visit her blog:

Pretty Opinionated