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Barbara Bray
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Report says Americans are reading less
By Barbara Bray    November 19, 2007 -- 07:34 AM

The National Endowment for the Arts study "To Read or Not to Read" was just released and found that an increasing number of adults in America have not even read one book in a year. [source] Some of the findings include:
  • In 2002, only 52 percdent of Americans ages 18 to 24 read a book voluntarily, down from 59 percent in 1992.
  • Money spent on books, adjusted for inflation, dropped 14 percent from 1985 to 2005 and has fallen dramatically since mid-1990s.
  • The number of adults with bachelor degrees and "proficient in reading prose" dropped from 40 percent in 1992 to 31 percent in 2003.
Probably because of the emphasis on phonics and comprehension, 9 year olds reading scores are much higher than the early 1992. But at the same time, the number of 17 year olds who "never or hardly ever" read for pleasure doubled and their comprehension scores have fallen.

Test scores may be rising but there is a growing gap between those that read and those that donít. There may be a very small group that read a lot. Others may read one Harry Potter book a year.

Reading creates people who want to learn more, maybe read the newspaper, check out museums, exercise, maybe even vote. People who donít read tend to spend more time in front of the TV, Internet, or playing video games. I spend lots of time on the Internet but still love reading every day. I read the paper every morning, talk about issues with my family, and probably are reading 2-3 different books at the same time. My house is full of books.

I remember asking some students if they even owned a book. Do you remember book mobiles? How about listening centers? I used to give away class sets of books at professional development activities. Now teachers don't have time for their students to read extra books.

How do we get people back to reading for pleasure? Talking about books? Sharing excitement like what happens with Harry Potter books or video games?


Categories: "Reading" "Nclb" "Life-long Learning"



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Comments:
By small Pam Lowe      November 24, 2007 -- 07:49 PM

Last year I had a group of fourth grade students that did not like to read for pleasure.  In fact parents approached me at the beginning of the year to say that  they had a tough time the year before with meeting Accelerated Reading (AR) goals because their children felt that they were being made to read.  In order to try to change my students' minds about reading and realize that it could be fun I created a Book Club  for parents and students.  We began reading, "Where the Red Fern Grows."  Students didn't have to participate, although everyone wanted to participate and the library helped me with the books.  They had a month to read it with their parents.  No one was at the same place at the same time in the book.  I created a wiki for the book and parents and students could comment together.  Soon parents were telling me that they were loving the reading time spent with their children and my students couldn't wait to read what was going to happen next.   

I also used wikis with my reading groups.  Students couldn't comment on the chapters read until they held discussions in literature circles.  I've found that the addition of working with technology helped to make the reading more fun.  My students likened the collaboration in the wikis to using MSN Messenger with their friends, except they were talking about books.  Here's the link to my wiki page:  http://schoolweb.missouri.edu/poplarbluff.k12.mo.us/lowe/Wikis.html



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By Kathleen Scott Meske      January 3, 2008 -- 11:34 AM

Not only are we reading less, but we are singing less.  I wonder if these two are related?  In a research survey (can't quote the source, sorry) octogenarians were asked to recall as many standard American folk, patriotic songs and hymn as they could.  The average number of songs was over 100.  Sixty year olds could remember only about 70 and it went down from there.  The youngest (20 somethings) knew less than 15.  (The words and music)  I'm wondering if this is pointing to the general state of declining literacy in this country.


Kathleen


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