A study done in 2009 by the Endowment for the Arts showed some depressing statistics when it comes to reading, writing, comprehension and general enrichment of both young people in school and adults in the workplace.
|This is a terrific resource for|
writing well and reading effectively.
The study also showed a statistic that has been discussed on this blog before--that people are reading less and buying far fewer books.
Add to those depressing statistics the recent article on The Huffington Post which stated that, based on a HuffPost/yougov poll, 28 percent of Americans did not read a book last year.
That article did have some happy news, including the fact that more respondents had read physical books than e-books in the past week--suggesting that the proclaimed demise of the printed book might not be as imminent as some doomsayers would suggest.
More troubling than the lack of books being purchased, for me, is the fact that young people AND adults are less proficient in reading. We should all be troubled by that, for many reasons. It's not just that it would be nice if people were all able to find the joy that reading can provide in an active way (rather than the more passive activities of watching television or playing video games). It's also that we are living in a time when a lot of people are throwing around a lot of rhetoric--some of it genuinely crazy. The less people are able to evaluate the nuances of language, the elements of a valid argument, and the logical fallacies that might be used to create a poor argument, the less we as a nation will be able to address our problems in a rational way.
As a teacher, I consistently ask students not just to read, but to reach higher, challenging their minds with text more challenging than their comfort level. I ask them to think of themselves as scholars, rather than to believe that only other people fit that role. I ask them to expand their vocabularies and to play with words, befriending them and realizing their power.
I'm grateful for every J.K Rowling and John Green whose work sends young people to the bookstores in droves. I'm grateful to all writers and readers and people who encourage reading in children who might not otherwise discover books. I don't think the trends have to be permanent--but I do fear the direction in which they seem to be taking us.