Wednesday, June 18, 2008
What Kids Say About Not Reading
Kids are reading much less today than they did 20 years ago, according to a recent study by Scholastic. Oops! My bad! I know, I should have warned you, or at least told you to sit down first, instead of just hitting you in the face with that cream pie of shocking news right off the bat. Mea culpa.
I read an article in USA Today about the Scholastic study and noticed something interesting: the kids don't mention TV by name as what they do instead of reading. In the survey of kids from 5 to 17 (too wide of a range to lump together in my opinion), 31% say they don't read because they would rather do other things. Like what? Huh, kids? TV perhaps? Why can't they just spill the beans?
That got me thinking: Is there still shame associated with nestling in on the couch and systematically inhaling a foot-long tube of vacuum-packed Chili Cheese Pringles while watching five staight hours of soul-sucking reality TV? If there is still some degree of ignominy associated with slack-jawed drooling at the base of a 65" hi-def plasma, that's a good thing! Hurray for the good guys! There's still hope.
The study also reports that 25% of kids reported having trouble finding something to read. I buy that one. It's true. Finding a book that's just right for a new reader can be tough—especially when you're seven or eight and can't just grab the keys to the SUV and thunder over to B&N or the local library. It takes exploration. It takes a lot of experimentation. It takes a flippin' drivers license! A kid needs a big person's help to find that first book or series that really butters their bread and initially greases the wheels of literacy.
On that subject, I found the article's little sidebar insightful. Here are the top five sources for kids to get ideas for books to read for fun:
1.) Mom at 65%—See? They're counting on Mom to help them!
2.) Friends at 61%—Nothing more powerful in publishing than "kid buzz."
3.) Teachers at 57%—Now I think many people would have thought teachers would be first, not so. But still critical.
4.) Librarian at 57%—That's why they rock so much!
5.) Dad at 43%—Not bad for dads, but they could do better (turn off the game!).
Anyhoo, it's always good to see my favorite topic get ink in the country's biggest newspaper. You can read the USA Today article here (there's entertainment to be had in the comments and in that interesting sidebar).