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BS: Do kids read books anymore?

Michael S 28 Jul 08 - 02:23 PM
SINSULL 28 Jul 08 - 03:06 PM
irishenglish 28 Jul 08 - 04:22 PM
Liz the Squeak 28 Jul 08 - 04:27 PM
Michael S 28 Jul 08 - 04:28 PM
Megan L 28 Jul 08 - 04:28 PM
Bee 28 Jul 08 - 04:30 PM
Michael S 28 Jul 08 - 04:42 PM
artbrooks 28 Jul 08 - 04:59 PM
Bee 28 Jul 08 - 05:18 PM
paula t 28 Jul 08 - 05:45 PM
Naemanson 28 Jul 08 - 05:55 PM
Ebbie 28 Jul 08 - 06:02 PM
Ruth Archer 28 Jul 08 - 06:11 PM
McGrath of Harlow 28 Jul 08 - 06:44 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 28 Jul 08 - 06:47 PM
GUEST,lox 28 Jul 08 - 07:12 PM
Michael S 28 Jul 08 - 07:21 PM
GUEST,lox 28 Jul 08 - 07:23 PM
Rowan 28 Jul 08 - 07:24 PM
Sandra in Sydney 28 Jul 08 - 08:01 PM
ranger1 28 Jul 08 - 08:48 PM
Rapparee 28 Jul 08 - 08:56 PM
LilyFestre 29 Jul 08 - 07:50 PM
Rapparee 29 Jul 08 - 09:13 PM
semi-submersible 29 Jul 08 - 11:52 PM
GUEST,HiLo 30 Jul 08 - 01:47 PM
Folk Form # 1 31 Jul 08 - 06:43 AM
Rapparee 31 Jul 08 - 09:08 AM
GUEST,Only In Canada Eh. 31 Jul 08 - 10:37 AM
Alice 31 Jul 08 - 10:50 AM
Donuel 31 Jul 08 - 10:54 AM
Bee 31 Jul 08 - 10:57 AM
Rapparee 31 Jul 08 - 02:46 PM
Donuel 31 Jul 08 - 09:01 PM
Rapparee 31 Jul 08 - 09:54 PM

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Subject: BS: Do kids read books anymore?
From: Michael S
Date: 28 Jul 08 - 02:23 PM

This past Sunday, the New York Times ran this article about the decline of book reading. Specifically, the article asked if web surfing and blog involvement (or a Mudcat habit) represent "a new kind or reading," which is different from reading books, but not inherently undesirable. Some argue that the web is replacing books, in a manner that's contributing to short attention spans and lack of interest in detail and context.

I have two teenagers and I see this in my oldest, a son who's just turned 18. He's a bright kid, about to start at a fine University, but it's hard to get him to read a book for pleasure. I wonder if he just doesn't have the attention span after years of video games and web browsing. He has what I gather is a fairly regular routine of checking favored websites each day, usually reading film news and criticism, and picking up some of the latest world news. He's interested enough in world affairs to declare himself an ardent Obama supporter, but he doesn't favor books. On a recent family vacation, when he was cut off from internet access, he absorbed the novel The Kite Runner, reading it pretty nonstop during downtime, and finishing it in two or three days. I hoped he'd pick up another book when we got home, but it was back to the Web.

I'm struck by the young man quoted in the article who says books "go through a lot of details that aren't really needed. Online just gives you what you need, nothing more or less." Not really needed? How about context--encompassing history, depth, shades of grey? And that says nothing about fiction. Has this kid never learned the pleasure of seeing a story unfold in depth, while immersing oneself in characterization and setting?

Or am I becoming more of a fogie by the second?

--Michael Scully
--Austin, TX


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Subject: RE: BS: Do kids read books anymore?
From: SINSULL
Date: 28 Jul 08 - 03:06 PM

Given the overwhelming success of the Harry Potter series, I'd say that kids are reading. I read constantly but have a brother who brags that he has not read a single book since he dropped out of high school. There will always be those who prefer Cliff Notes.
On the other hand, I can barely sit through most movies. The noise level, the stupidity of the plots, the lack of character development, the gum chewing clod behind me -I just don't get it. Said brother sees them on opening day and collects movies.
I agree with the young man in the article: "Online just gives you what you need, nothing more or less." That is where I go for news, weather reports, etc. Haven't read a newspaper in ages except for selective articles on line.


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Subject: RE: BS: Do kids read books anymore?
From: irishenglish
Date: 28 Jul 08 - 04:22 PM

Well, I would say the fact that he can be engrossed by a book Michael is good news. The fact that he could barely put it down is a great thing, and if its not to the frequency that you desire, I wouldn't worry too much. In college, depending on what he's going for, he might HAVE to read books (of course there are cliff notes and summaries online etc, but I think clever professors have always found their way around those kinds of diversions) and the bonus will be, he might find himself reading more and more. Its hard these days with all the technological diversions, but then again with the ibooks, and even the ability to read a book on your ipod, people are still reading. Give me a proper book any day, but thats just me! My wife and I read a lot, and here in New York City, I'm happy to say you see a lot of people in their 20's, 30's etc, reading. Very often I'll read in the pub-one of the reasons I have always like this particular pub is the fact that people sit and read. I guess my point is throughout this-I wouldn't worry personally, it seems like your son has the desire to read more than just the facts, if he enjoyed the Kite Runner as much as you say. I know for some people, just like music, they get too mired in what is popular, and feel dismayed or put off books for that reason. And just like music, the answer is-dig deeper, find the types of books that you think you might like. I finally got around to seeing Persepolis a few weeks ago. Now, what a great starting point for people to understand Iran 30 years ago, particularly young people, and a topic which on its own, seems very heavy, and unapproachable. After seeing the movie, and then reading the graphic novel-PRESTO, you've got someone with at least a basic idea of an issue still in play today.


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Subject: RE: BS: Do kids read books anymore?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 28 Jul 08 - 04:27 PM

Try wresting one from Limpit's hand and you'll lose more than fingers.

LTS


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Subject: RE: BS: Do kids read books anymore?
From: Michael S
Date: 28 Jul 08 - 04:28 PM

The Harry Potter argument is valid only to a point. My kids were both swept up in it and devoured all the books. But absent the Potter cultural phenomenon, my son sticks mostly to bits and bites of info on the web. With Potter, there was the desire to do what your friends were doing, to go to the bookstore parties, to know the plots before the movies came out, etc. One series can't prove kids are really reading if it takes that much hoopla to get their noses in a book.

As far as the young man who said "online just gives you what you need," he wasn't referring to checking the headlines or the weather. He was researching the life and work of a US Chief Justice, which involves more than a collection of "facts." Granted, he was a high schooler and it was probably a simple report, but the larger question is, are kids lacking the attention span needed to enjoy books, in all their involved "detail." Is the web (which I use and think is great) contributing to this?

Michael Scully
Austin, TX


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Subject: RE: BS: Do kids read books anymore?
From: Megan L
Date: 28 Jul 08 - 04:28 PM

yes dear but the poor child has to do something to hide from her parents *ducks and hobbles for the door


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Subject: RE: BS: Do kids read books anymore?
From: Bee
Date: 28 Jul 08 - 04:30 PM

Both my neices, one twelve and the other eighteen, have been voracious readers since they learned to read. They have had access to the usual computers, and always had a few games, but reading books is what they enjoy, and neither is ever too far away from an open book, ready to be taken up when there's a few minutes to read another few pages.

Most of the kids I know are readers, if not quite as enthusiastic. Notably, though, the exceptions who don't read unless they have to are boys, and I wonder if there is some need to encourage some boys to read more.


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Subject: RE: BS: Do kids read books anymore?
From: Michael S
Date: 28 Jul 08 - 04:42 PM

Some of these comments give me hope. Regarding Bee's point about girls reading more, that mirrors my own experience. My 14-year-old daughter reads far more books than her 18-year-old brother. However, he used to read a lot more. I think it's declined as his web use has grown. Maybe it's just easier to get distracted with all the instant info technology can bring us these days--songs, videos, Facebook exchanges, a million articles and blog comments! These things are all good, but is long-form reading a casualty? Sad, if so.

Michael Scully
Austin, TX


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Subject: RE: BS: Do kids read books anymore?
From: artbrooks
Date: 28 Jul 08 - 04:59 PM

#2 daughter is the director of teen programs at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. I don't think she'll be unemployed anytime soon.


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Subject: RE: BS: Do kids read books anymore?
From: Bee
Date: 28 Jul 08 - 05:18 PM

Certainly the internet is a huge distraction (who knows that better than me!), but wrt boys not reading, this is not new behaviour. A larger percentage of boys have always been less inclined to read than girls.

I can't say why this is, but it hasn't a lot to do with what parents have done, I think. I look at my own siblings and cousins, born between 1950 and 1965. All of us were read to from birth, were taken to the bookmobile and the library, encouraged to read to find things out as well as for fun. Pretty well all the girls are avid readers, and perhaps three quarters of the boys are also. But for some of the boys, it just never takes, and though I feel they are missing out on something wonderful, maybe from their perspective they are not. Perhaps their experience, their manner of observing the world, is just as valuable and just as valid and just as full of knowledge, but differently acquired.


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Subject: RE: BS: Do kids read books anymore?
From: paula t
Date: 28 Jul 08 - 05:45 PM

I was rather concerned that children in a primary school I was teaching at didn't seem to enjoy reading.Harry Potter was the exception. I introduced a "story time" to the school day (10 - 20 minutes after registration and at other times eg. if they tidied up very quickly at the end of the day). I didn't ask the children to read and I chose a variety of books. I started with Kensuke's kingdom and then read an Alex Rider book.A number of children started turning up with their own copies so they could follow as I read. They then started to suggest stories they thought the others would enjoy listening to or reading.We had some great discussions as children were keen to talk about their books.
Silent reading sessions became much more popular, and all children had their own book on their desks all the time so they could read as soon as the sessions began.
I felt it was important not be judgemental about the books - as long as the subject matter and language etc. were suitable for the age group. There are some super books out there!


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Subject: RE: BS: Do kids read books anymore?
From: Naemanson
Date: 28 Jul 08 - 05:55 PM

I spent the last year teaching literature to sophomores. No, they don't read for pleasure. The idea that reading can be pleasurable is anathema to them. Reading is work.

They are right but only when you compare it to the other forms of entertainment they are used to. All they experience is passive. Information and entertainment is there at the push of a button. But you have to take a book off a shelf, open it, and scan the words and actually ingest them. And how do you decide which book to read? There are no ads telling which one is the one everyone else is reading. Nobody is guiding them in selection and appreciation (except for that boring teacher at the head of the room).


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Subject: RE: BS: Do kids read books anymore?
From: Ebbie
Date: 28 Jul 08 - 06:02 PM

This summer I'm working part time at a mostly-used book store and I'm taken with the numbers of youngsters of all ages- toddlers to twenty - who come in eager for another book. I shouldn't have been too surprised because after all my brothers and I were/are avid readers but it appears to me that there is a certain proportion of people who always will read.

I like to say that everyone who comes into that shop loves books, and people who read are interesting people, so you can't lose.


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Subject: RE: BS: Do kids read books anymore?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 28 Jul 08 - 06:11 PM

my daughter is fourteen, soon to be fifteen, and she still reads for pleasure. Recently she loved A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Shining, and Fight Club.

A couple of summers ago she read To kill A Mockingbird - and cried over Boo Radley.

She loved Harry Potter, too - we had to do the midnight thing last year when the last book was released.

She doesn't read as much as she used to, but she has a very active social life!


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Subject: RE: BS: Do kids read books anymore?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Jul 08 - 06:44 PM

Do people who used to read books as kids read books any more when they are adults?


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Subject: RE: BS: Do kids read books anymore?
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 28 Jul 08 - 06:47 PM

I certainly do. It's a love I have never lost.


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Subject: RE: BS: Do kids read books anymore?
From: GUEST,lox
Date: 28 Jul 08 - 07:12 PM

My daughter reads every day and night and is extremely articulate as a definite consequence, with clear comprehension and analytical skills.

She is 4.


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Subject: RE: BS: Do kids read books anymore?
From: Michael S
Date: 28 Jul 08 - 07:21 PM

That's wonderful Guest,lox, but the test, at least as posed by the Times article, is whether she'll continue to read once she discovers blogging, and gets her My Space page, etc. I hope so. You're off to a great start.

Michael Scully
Austin, TX


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Subject: RE: BS: Do kids read books anymore?
From: GUEST,lox
Date: 28 Jul 08 - 07:23 PM

I hope she does the lot.


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Subject: RE: BS: Do kids read books anymore?
From: Rowan
Date: 28 Jul 08 - 07:24 PM

I've not read the article that prompted MIchael's post but I have been aware for some time that educators have been concerned that the fact that kids watch so much TV (I think the US avarage is around 5 hours/day for children) and the nature of commercial television (where ads break into the plot every ten minutes or so) has led them to address kids' attention span. I suspect there are a lot of conflicting aspects and can really only comment on my own observations.

When I was a child and teenager I read assiduously and probably compulsively, but there wasn't much else in the way of solo entertainment. Because of my father's work I was exposed to a fair diet of MGM movies and came to the conclusion that filmgoing was a waste of my time; this only changed after some exposure to Akiro Kurosawa but, even so, I was more interested in how a book required you to engage your mind. Most of my adult reading has been of a technical nature but I burst into the novels on a frequent, if not a regular, basis.

So, that was the background I brought into bringing up two daughters, now 17 and 14, along with their mother (now my friendly ex), who reads anything and everything in the way of novels, likes films and is fairly senior in her university teaching and research. Our daughters watch only about an hour and a half's TV on any day and, at my place, for technical reasons none of it is commercial TV. They use the internet at their mother's and they use my home computers (not connected) for a wide variety of creative activities.

Like some of the youngsters described above, they got into reading as a group activity; the more difficult books (like Tolkien, for the younger daughter when she was 4) I'd read aloud with them, voicing the characters and getting them to engage. When the first Harry Potter film was due to come out they, like their mates wanted to see it. I insisted that, if they wanted to see a film of a book they should read it first so that their own imagination created the story directly from the author's words rather than being interpreted by film directors, producers and actors. Due to the age of the younger daughter, this meant we all did some extensive reading aloud so that we could finish it before the film's release. After the film I drove them and their mates home and was pleased with the quality of their critiques of the film.

They've maintained this pattern ever since and are keen readers with the ability to sustain an extended attention span. Am I lucky in my daughters' abilities? Probably. Was any of it due to the way I/we encouraged them to engage actively with media rather than accept it passively? Possibly; I like to think so, anyway. And I'm convinced that, if they can do it, so can most others. It's up to us to provide appropriate models, opportunities and support.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: BS: Do kids read books anymore?
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 28 Jul 08 - 08:01 PM

A few years back the Premier of New South Wales (Australia's largest state( became concerned that NSW children were not reading books regularly (or at all!) so instituted the NSW Premier's Reading challenge Welcome to the 2008 Premier's Reading Challenge, the biggest children's book club in Australia. Explore our new look web site today and check regularly for updates and news.

The NSW Premier's challenge of reading 20 books in a year was too easy for year 6 Berala Public School student Monika Markgraf-Lee.

The scheme is supported by schools & by a list of recommended books & authors, and children & schools can receive awards.

When I used google to get info I found links to other state challengess. I wasn't aware that other states had followed, so it seems likely the majority of Australian primary school students (up to age 11 or 12) have access to the scheme.

sandra


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Subject: RE: BS: Do kids read books anymore?
From: ranger1
Date: 28 Jul 08 - 08:48 PM

My soon to be twelve year old nephew who has a very difficult time reading (learning disabilities) has been visting me for extended stays ever since he was two. It's been a yearly tradition to go to my favorite bookstore and buy him two books, one that he gets to choose and one of my choice. This year, I decided that due to time issues, we might skip the bookstore, as he wasn't particularly interested last year. In the car on the way from picking him up, he asked: "Can we go to the bookstore? There's this really cool series I'm reading and I need the last book." So, Auntie and Austin headed to the bookstore, where book 5 of the Spiderwick Chronicles was located and Auntie's choice was a copy of Over Sea, Under Stone. He went home a happy kid.


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Subject: RE: BS: Do kids read books anymore?
From: Rapparee
Date: 28 Jul 08 - 08:56 PM

There are 1,800 children in the Summer Reading Program; to date they have read over 6,000 books.

There are 174 teenagers in the Young Adult Summer Reading Program; I don't have a count on the number they've read.

So far this summer we've given away, free fer nothin', 4,328 books (children and teens) and will give away over 5,000 before the summer is over.

They gotta be reading some of them.


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Subject: RE: BS: Do kids read books anymore?
From: LilyFestre
Date: 29 Jul 08 - 07:50 PM

I teach first grade and by about January, when reading isn't such a struggle (to figure out the words), the children LOVE to read. They love to be read to, they love to read to me, they love to partner read....they just plain old love to read! Early this spring the children were asking for time to read....far be it from me to deny such a request!

Michelle


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Subject: RE: BS: Do kids read books anymore?
From: Rapparee
Date: 29 Jul 08 - 09:13 PM

I had a five-year-old come in with her grandfather today. Her cat had died, and she'd been crying. Grandpa asked if there was something she'd like to do and she said she'd like to go to the library. So I gave her some M&Ms (plain, not peanut) and showed some of our "special hidden places" (closets, mostly, but exciting when you're five) and when we got downstairs she went to play on the children's computers. I gave her three books, and she was happier with those than the computer.

Brown eyes and a smile that would light up the night....


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Subject: RE: BS: Do kids read books anymore?
From: semi-submersible
Date: 29 Jul 08 - 11:52 PM

I read insatiably as a youth, but when I married I had little time, then raising my young child I had no time to read. The internet and email took any time I would otherwise have spent reading. It hasn't been a bad bargain, really. TV on the other hand has rarely seemed worth the time. Most of my life has been in TV-free households.

My son is approaching 10 years old, and I find time to read a few books again (both fiction and non-). I am sure I will read increasingly in the fullness of time, and perhaps many of the teens who put aside a reading habit in favour of the internet will also return to reading at times. I doubt whether most kids who haven't learned to enjoy reading will love it later, though.

Meanwhile, while I was reading this thread this afternoon my son happily announced he had finished devouring Karlson on the Roof (by Astrid Lindgren), then headed off to cut his own hair. The last few days I've been reading him Watership Down by Richard Adams. If I dig out The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien which got lost earlier this summer, he'll probably finish it. Both are definitely written for adults, but have lots to offer him.

Internet text and magazine articles certainly use a different kind of concentration and attention, so a population trained in these will lack some of the abilities with which we grew up. Will they gain other valuable skills? Will a holistic grasp of fragmented information, or a new research skill, replace lost skills of memory and comprehension? I fear the path of least resistance is just to cruise, illiterate, following glowing electronic seductions into a darker age.


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Subject: RE: BS: Do kids read books anymore?
From: GUEST,HiLo
Date: 30 Jul 08 - 01:47 PM

Yes they do. In fact I think that during the last 20 years or so Middle School kids have been reading a lot more and they were reading long before Harry Potter, but Harry helped. I think that one of the reasons why they have been reading more is that more and more very good books are now available to young readers. They are no longer stuck with badly written teenage agnst formula books.
   Also, they are crossing over to adult books at a younger age than ever before and are becoming very sophisticated consumers of literature. The observation that they don't read as much is often made by people who do not speak to young people on the subject of books.
Of course there are still a lot of kids who do not read, there are no books in their homes, the parents don't read or value reading. But for the most part ,I think we underestimate how much kids do read.


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Subject: RE: BS: Do kids read books anymore?
From: Folk Form # 1
Date: 31 Jul 08 - 06:43 AM

I have always understood that most people don't read books and they have never done so. People use to blame it on television, before that probably the radio or the cinema. It has always been a minority past-time and probably alwasy will be. Incidentaly, I am an avid reader.


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Subject: RE: BS: Do kids read books anymore?
From: Rapparee
Date: 31 Jul 08 - 09:08 AM

The average circulation per resident-of-city here was 9.6 last year. That is to say, on the average each of the 53,000+ people who live here checked out 9.6 items*.

Other Idaho cities have per capita circulations of up to 24+. These are usually small town back in the mountains which get A LOT of snow.


*Includes books, DVDs, VHS tapes, CDs, etc., of which 93.3% are printed materials. Does NOT include use of Internet stations, reference materials, and things like that -- just things that can leave the building.


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Subject: RE: BS: Do kids read books anymore?
From: GUEST,Only In Canada Eh.
Date: 31 Jul 08 - 10:37 AM

Reading is divided into three age levels of comprehension and difficulty.

Level 1 = age 5 to 9
Level 2 = age 9 to 12
Level 3 = age 12 to 18

In some provinces up to 52% of the population cannot function at level 3, the national average is 48% We are a G-8 nation and barely literate. Reading books requires some ability above level 2 Some people cannot even understand basic instructions on a pill bottle, let alone read a book.


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Subject: RE: BS: Do kids read books anymore?
From: Alice
Date: 31 Jul 08 - 10:50 AM

There is a film maker here in my town who started making public service announcements for tv encouraging parents to read to their children. I met him in my yellow pages work, as he called me about getting a listing put into the phone book.

I had a long talk with him about how he started this campaign. He was in an airplane, sitting next to a young woman from Utah, who was raised in a middle income family, went to public school, her parents were educated... but she shared with him that she was functionally illiterate. She did not learn to read in school.

That encounter made him start researching how much illiteracy there is in the US, and he decided to dedicate his film company time to encourage parents to read to their children.
His web site is www.whisperingwindproduction.com

Alice


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Subject: RE: BS: Do kids read books anymore?
From: Donuel
Date: 31 Jul 08 - 10:54 AM

My kids do need an enforced reading afternoon.

One the plis side they are both learning to speak and read Chinese with 5 lessons a week and have made great headway.

Thanks to my neihbor from China 26 years ago who also has 2 children of similar age.


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Subject: RE: BS: Do kids read books anymore?
From: Bee
Date: 31 Jul 08 - 10:57 AM

This Wikipedia article has some interesting information about literacy in the US, and how it has been measured in different studies.

If you barely know how to read, you won't be reading too many books. Twenty years ago, the area of NS where I live was found to be the hot spot of illiteracy in the province. An astounding number of older people (60+) were/are unable to read at all, and those thirty and up weren't much better off. Younger people were more likely to be able to read, but still an alarming number were deemed 'functionally illiterate' - not able to understand what they read, small reading vocabulary, etc.

The area includes a lot of isolated fishing communities, and until recent years, schooling was less important than fishing for your living. So younger people, even though they were getting better access to education as schools improved, often had parents at home who couldn't read to them or help them learn.

After the study came out, lots of adult literacy projects were launched in the area, and the ones I knew about were well attended, but no new studies have been done, so I don't know how successful they were.

Until I moved here, I'd only met one person who I knew couldn't read. Here, I was often shocked by finding yet another person my age or younger who was illiterate and being helped along with jobs by friends who read for them whenever possible and necessary.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Literacy_in_the_United_States


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Subject: RE: BS: Do kids read books anymore?
From: Rapparee
Date: 31 Jul 08 - 02:46 PM

Adult literacy was a big fad, but like all fads it's faded. And that's a goddamned shame.

"The man who can read and does not has no advantage over the one who cannot."   --Mark Twain


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Subject: RE: BS: Do kids read books anymore?
From: Donuel
Date: 31 Jul 08 - 09:01 PM

sounds like something that should be written on the Library front door.


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Subject: RE: BS: Do kids read books anymore?
From: Rapparee
Date: 31 Jul 08 - 09:54 PM

I really should note that the saying is attributed to Mark Twain. But it has the flavor of something he'd say.

I and others had a meeting with the School Super and some of her staff this morning. We want to get the School District on board in a drive to raise money for a bookmobile. We have a Subaru-towed book wagon, 6 feet high x 8 feet long x 5 feet wide, which we take to the parks, schools, and neighborhoods -- especially the parks during the summer lunch program.

Yesterday we invited the Super and Co. to go to Raymond Park to see the Book Wagon arrive. They did and were flat-out amazed at what they saw.

When the Book Wagon pulled in an estimated two hundred (200) kids were drawn to it like filings to a magnet. They checked out books, were given brand new books free, and listened to a story or two.

We do similar stuff around noon Monday through Friday during June, July and August.

The School District is with us in the endeavor....


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