CoverMedia Literacy Activities for Civics Learning
Defining Critical Media LiteracyTopic 1. Foundations of the United States Political System1.1 Democracy in Social Media Policies and Community Standards1.2 The Internet as a Public Utility1.3  21st Century Women STEM Innovators1.4 Media Coverage of Kings, Queens, and Royal Families1.5 Representations of Native Americans in Films, Local History Publications, and School MascotsTopic 2. The Development of United States Government2.1 Declarations of Independence on Social Media2.2 Media Marketing and Government Regulation of Self-Driving Cars and Electric Vehicles2.3 Representations of and Racism Toward Black Americans in the Media2.4 Political Debates Through Songs from Hamilton: An American Musical2.5 Bill of Rights on TwitterTopic 3. Institutions of United States Government3.1: Hollywood Movies About the Branches of Government3.2: Writing an Impeachment Press Release3.3: Members of Congress' Use of Social Media3.4: Political Impacts of Public Opinion Polls3.5: Website Design for New Political PartiesTopic 4. The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizens4.1: Immigration in the News4.2: Portrayals of Immigrants in Television and Film4.3: COVID-19 Information Evaluation4.4: Women Political Leaders in the Media4.5: Online Messaging by Special Interest Groups4.6: Digital Games for Civic Engagement4.7: Social Media and the Elections4.8: Images of Political Leaders and Political Power4.9: Media Spin in the Coverage of Political Debates4.10: Celebrities' Influence on Politics4.11: Political Activism Through Social Media4.12: Media Recruitment of Public Sector Workers4.13: Images of Teachers and Teaching4.14: For Whom Is and Could Your School Be Named4.15: Representing Trans Identities4.16: Media Framing of the Events of January 6, 20214.17: Music as Protest Art4.18: PACs, Super PACs, and Unions in the MediaTopic 5. The Constitution, Amendments, and Supreme Court Decisions5.1: Prohibition in the Media5.2: The Equal Rights Amendment on Twitter and Other Social Media5.3: Civil War Era News Stories and Recruitment Advertisements5.4: Representations of Gender and Race on Currency5.5: The Equality Act on Twitter5.6: Reading Supreme Court Dissents Aloud5.7: Television Cameras in CourtroomsTopic 6. The Structure of State and Local Government6.1: Native American Mascots and Logos6.2: A Constitution for the Internet6.3: Military Recruitment and the Media6.4: Your Privacy on Social Media6.5: Pandemic Policy Information in the Media6.6: Gendered Language in Media Coverage of Women in Politics6.7: Gendered Toy Marketing6.8: Environmental Campaigns Using Social Media6.9: Trusted Messengers, the Media, and the Pandemic6.10: Online Campaigning for Political Office6.11: Advertising the Lottery Online and In Print6.12: Local Governments, Social Media and Digital Democracy6.13: Protecting the CommonsTopic 7. Freedom of the Press and News/Media Literacy7.1: Press Freedom in the United States and the World7.2: Objectivity and Reporting the News from All Sides7.3: Investigative Journalism and Social Change7.4: News Photographs & Newspaper Design7.5: How Reporters Report Events7.6: Recommendation Algorithms on Social Media Platforms7.7: YouTube Content Creators7.8: Fake News Investigation and Evaluation7.9: Paywalls and Access to Online News7.10: Critical Visual Analysis of Online and Print Media7.11: Memes and TikToks as Political Cartoons7.12: Women Reporters in the Movies7.13: Design a 21st Century Indie Bookstore

7.13: Design a 21st Century Indie Bookstore

How often do you visit your local bookstore?

Do you even have a bookstore near where you live?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there is one bookstore for every 54,299 persons in the United States (“Don’t Turn the Page on Bookstores,” Hait, 2021). California, with the most people, has the most bookstores.

Still, millions of people in urban and rural areas do not have a bookstore nearby to visit. Book browsing and buying is hardly ever part of their media experience.

Picture of a bookstore with people reading books
Picture of Bookstore by LubosHouska is under Pixabay License

Despite the enormity of book sales through Amazon, the rise of eBooks, the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a decline in book and magazine reading among young people, bookstores remain prominent features of today’s media environment.

In fact, bookstores have been rebounding in recent years -- book sales have increased, young people are elevating books on TikTok (see "The rise of BookTok: meet the teen influencers pushing books up the charts"), and “Indie” bookstores are operating in communities all across the country.

An “Indie” (or independent) bookstore is a store that is independently owned and not part of a large chain, like Barnes & Noble. In the century before Amazon was founded in 1994, most bookstores were independent. Then, large chains and online providers took over and independent stores declined. But now people are beginning to return to the in-person experiences a bookstore offers.

Does a bookstore, whether independently owned or part of a large chain, have a civics learning role? While bookstores are private enterprises and not public organizations, they are places to go for ideas and information, and every member of our society uses ideas and information to make choices and decisions about political issues. Every bookstore -- through the materials it carries and the ways it makes those materials visible and accessible to customers -- plays a role in how people think about government, public policies, and social and political change.

How would you design an Indie bookstore to meet the needs of 21st-century people, notably children and young adults, in your community, and help them to be informed participants in a democratic society and government? In the following activity, you will respond to this question.

Activity: Design Your Own Indie Bookstore

In past years, to get more customers, bookstores have added in-store features like free Internet access, coffee shops, reading nooks with comfortable chairs and pillows, additional products (e.g., toys, cards, and art supplies), free or low-cost educational workshops for children, and adults, and targeted selections of books, magazines and other reading materials. There is even a new app, Tertulia, that seeks to replicate some of the actual bookstore experience by using a mix of artificial intelligence information and suggestions by human editors to generate a daily listing of five books you might want to read.