By November 19, 2007 2 Comments Read More →

Doesn't Watching TV Count as Reading?

If politicians save bad news for Fridays (so we’ll ignore it), then I guess reading advocates wait for Mondays (so we can think about it all week). From the Washington Post (“A Troubling Case of Readers’ Block,” by Bob Thompson):

Americans are reading less and their reading proficiency is declining at troubling rates, according to a report that the National Endowment for the Arts will issue today. The trend is particularly strong among older teens and young adults, and if it is not reversed, the NEA report suggests, it will have a profound negative effect on the nation’s economic and civic future.

The last such study drew criticism because it focused on literary reading. This one, says NEA Chairman Dana Gioia, is different:

“This is not a study about literary reading,” Gioia said. It’s a study about reading of any sort and “what the consequences of doing it well or doing it badly are.”

The article still cites some dissenting voices anyway. And while I have often wondered whether literary reading is really that much less common than it used to be, I guess I’d be surprised if general reading habits and writing ability aren’t in serious decline.

A few different quotes in the New York Times (“Study Links Drop in Test Scores to a Decline in Time Spent Reading,” by Motoko Rich), including:

"It’s no longer reasonable to debate whether the problem exists," said Sunil Iyengar, director of research and analysis for the endowment. "Let’s not nitpick or wrangle over to what extent is reading in decline."

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About the Author:

Keir Graff is the editor of Booklist Online and the author of five books. His most recent is the middle-grade novel, The Other Felix.

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