I read a disturbing article in the Boston Globe today. The article cites a study done by the National Endowment for the Arts that was a 99-page study of 40 universities, business groups and government agencies since 2004. The study stated the following statistics:
- 30% of 13 year olds read almost every day
- 17 year olds who never read for pleasure rose from 9% in 1984 to 19% in 2004
- Almost half of Americans between 18 and 24 never read for pleasure
- In 2005, almost 40% of college freshman and 35% of seniors read nothing for pleasure
- 72% of employers rates high school graduates deficient in writing
- 30% of employers cited them deficient in reading
WOW! These statistics are astounding! The age group this discusses are future politicians and leaders of this country too! That’s scary!
The article from the Boston Globe states, “The report does not explain why youth reading has declined, but Gioia said he suspects three main reasons: “First, something is not happening in our educational system. Second, we are surrounded by nonstop media, but for the most part it does not acknowledge reading. When the media made a celebrity of J.K. Rowling, 10 million people bought her book. Oprah Winfrey put ‘Anna Karenina’ on the best-seller list. Third, our lives are completely cluttered with a million gadgets.”
I will have to say that I agree. Our kids are more in tune with TV, computer games, video games, texting, etc. than they are in any other are of their lives, in my opinion.
I would dare say, and this will probably not make me popular, that there is some break down in the home as well where reading is concerned. When I was a little girl and my mother would put me to bed, she said in an attempt to keep me from getting out of bed, she would let me make a pile of books on my bed and turn on my lamp. I would apparently sit and read until I fell asleep. My parents read books to me, my brother read books to me while I was still a baby. I grew up loving to read. In high school, I became an avid reader and haven’t stopped since. I read anything from fiction to poetry to prose to newspaper articles and books by the likes of Max Lucado and James Dobson. Reading is a passion for me and I am working hard to instill that in my son. If we as parents don’t try to get our children interested in reading soemthing, they will become one of those statistics. And aside from being one of those statistics, those children who do not read are less likely to get upper management jobs in good companies. Did you see the statistic I listed about what employers said?
In my opinion, this is a dire situation! Agree with me or not, but reading is a foundation that is necessary for good writing, speaking, leading, etc.