Book Club

Apparently teens aren’t reading for fun any more. Gone are the days of heading to the library, or Amazon, and picking up a book for pure enjoyment.  According to a new study by  Common Sense Media, not only do reading rates decline as kids get older, but 45 percent of 17-year-olds admit they read by choice only once or twice a year.

From Time:

In 1984, 8% of 13-year-olds and 9% of 17-year-olds said they “never” or “hardly ever” read for pleasure. In 2014, that number had almost tripled, to 22% and 27%. Girls also tend to read more than boys, as 18% of boys say they read daily, while 30% of girls do.

Parents are also reading to their kids less than ever. In 1999, children ages 2 to 7 were read to for an average of 45 minutes per day. In 2013, that number had dropped to an average of just over 30 minutes per day. The researchers also found racial disparities: 75% of white children get read to every day, while only 66% of black children do and only 50% of Hispanic children. That disparity can translate into educational differences as well. In 2013, 46% of white fourth graders were reading proficient, while only 18% of black students and 20% of Hispanic students were reading at grade level. Those trends stayed roughly the same through eighth grade.

So what’s to blame for recreational reading? All fingers point to technology. We’re living in a Snapchat and Twitter type of world. Kids don’t have time to read anything more than 140 characters and actually write like “WTH LOLZ”.

Instead of giving a child the next new gadget, give them books and make them read throughout the week.

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  • KamJos

    It’s easy to blame the kids, however did you see the statistic that only 18% of Black fourth graders are proficient in reading? By that age most children should be on level. That statistic is incredibly alarming. Coupled with the fact that there are many states where less than half of Black students graduate the future economic situation for many Black children looks bleak. We really need to be doing more about the education of Black children, instead of blaming them.

    Our society is becoming MORE literate than less and to participate in it you have to know how to read. It’s an incredibly important issue, and I fear that we have become far too complacent about it. Susan Taylor, the former editor of Essence, has an organization designed to address this but it’s not enough. Really there should be riots in the streets about the poor education our children are receiving. Instilling a love of literacy needs to start somewhere, because the more parents are functionally illiterate the less likely their child is going to be literate.

    Lastly, if you read the actual study, which is available on the Common Sense Media website, it does not place the blame solely on technology like the Times article says it does, but definitely highlights many other reasons such as the proficiency levels and achievement gap that was mentioned.

  • Kai26

    I’ve heard children as young as two-years-old speaking the same broken language her/his parent(s) does. It is very important for parents to get kid their kid(s) into reading at a young age because it also affects how one speaks.

  • binks

    Honestly, this is not surprising especially in this day and age. Hell, I know some adults who don’t read recreationally (or never picked up a book after they graduated school since most read because it was required) and will look at you dumbfounded if you do, so kids’ are just following the pattern.

  • lynn1066

    My son is 18 and headed for college next year. He’s a good student, but has never read for fun despite every effort on my part. This was very dismaying to me as his mom because I come from a family of readers. My parents, me and all my siblings, we always read for fun growing up and still do.

    But back to my son: I think it’s just his generation, and the ubiquity of electronic entertainment. I read to him literally every day from the time he was six weeks. We limited TV and video games and never even had cable. We had “silent reading time” every day after school from the time he could read on his own, and he always got to choose his own books. He *loved* being read to but never liked doing it on his own.

    Sometime during his teen years he told me “reading is for girls, I don’t know any guy who likes to read.” I thought that was ridiculous, but this was reflected in the Young Adult section of Barnes and Noble, where had been taking him since he was a toddler. The YA section is basically geared towards white girls, as most of the book covers bear out. We had to search long and hard for books featuring young black male characters, and most of those ended up being of the “struggling in the ghetto” variety.

    So, he’s an adult now and even though I tried my hardest, and it pains me to say so, my son is not a reader. He’s a good student, a good kid and excited about college next year, so I guess there’s that, but I’m still disappointed. He’s right there with the zeitgeist though, as readers are a dying breed. Kids these days are much more visual-oriented, and prefer the blinking lights to the written word.