Saturday, May 31, 2014


This is serious!

In the past thirty years the number of teens who report that they never or hardly ever read has tripled. And that includes the Harry Potter generation of fans.

And we're not talking about War and Peace or Plato's Republic. We're talking about garden-variety science fiction or teen thrillers and romances. We're talking about magazines, graphic novels newspapers, even movie reviews on the iPhone.

It's no wonder that the reading ability scores of high school seniors are exactly the same as they were back in 1984, the year of big hair, "The Karate Kid," $1.10 per gallon gas, and the first Apple Mac computer.

Scores for elementary and middle schoolers have improved. Teachers have obviously been working hard, but apparently practice makes perfect, even for teen-aged readers.

Gaming, FaceBooking, texting, watching endlessly recycled movies and television shows--all deserve some of the blame, of course. But kids in past years had the much maligned comic books, radio shows, movies, and television to compete with reading, and overall scores improved. Now we may be slipping back toward a level of functional illiteracy not seen in over a century.

Common-Sense Media has more statistics and good suggestions for parents who are concerned that their children are losing out on the joys and advantages of childhood reading. Nonfiction introduces new knowledge, takes us into things we don't know, things that compel us. Fiction broadens our world view, letting us live inside someone else's skin for a while as they work through situations we haven't known but may soon experience.

For what to do to give your child the advantages that wide childhood reading brings for his or her future life, read the Common Sense's article here.

Be sure your kids see you reading it and and take time to talk about it with them.



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