I was astonished when happening upon an article this week in USA Today regarding the reading (or lack of) habits in kids. It stated that “many kids in the U.S. are too busy, too distracted and, in some cases, to tired to read books for fun, a new survey finds, suggesting that schoolwork, homework and diversions such as YouTube and Facebook keep them from regularly enjoying a good book.”
This is somewhat appalling to me, especially because I am currently working on my master’s degree in book publishing. It’s also sad. Then again, I am trying to keep an open mind. Younger people in the Net Generation are different than I was when growing up. They have access to things we never did – i.e., the computer, the cell phone, the PDA. They rely on the Internet for their information. They are collaborators and “prosumers” in their own right.
While they might not be reading a book, they are perusing and actively participating in online forums and other arenas I am just now learning about. They choose to get their information in different ways than I ever knew. When I was in grade school and high school, you could not keep me out of the public library – especially in the summertime. I could not get enough of books and still cannot to this day. Will I ever migrate to an “E-Reader” device? Not likely. I like the touch, smell and feel of a book. For me, it’s part of the overall experience. It’s a stress reliever from toiling over my office, my computer and my PDA all day long.
I read the same article and it freaked me out. The journalist in me insists that I ask questions and I often ask young people, “What are you reading?” I am appalled at how often they say, “nothing.”
Abby is correct that we grew up in a different era. No Internet; no cable. But, we had our own diversions. They just didn’t involve a screen.
About 11 years ago, we remodeled this house. Our son was 8-years old. We made sure he had a window seat and a comfy pad to recline and read. He will turn 20-years old in August and I still find him curled up in that spot. Of course, he also has the cell phone nearby and the iPod in his ears.
Cracking open a new book fills me with excitement. Where will I go? What might I learn? I prolong the anticipation. I read the acknowledgments and dedication. Then I flip to page one and settle in.