Reading for Pleasure or Duty…….May 23, 2010 at 9:19 am | Posted in uncategorized | 2 Comments
Posted by Heidi Bossard
An article published March 24, 2010 claims that our nation’s schoolchildren have made little or no progress in reading proficiency in recent years. The results were based on the largest nationwide reading test entitled the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The scores reflect a seventeen year trend of “sluggish achievement” in reading.
The potential cause for stagnant reading scores is the decline in the time students spend reading for pleasure. An article by David Mehegan further claims that children spend the majority of their free time surfing the internet, texting on cell phones or watching television. The lure of technology based applications has pulled young people away from reading.
In 2007 the National Endowment for the Arts published the following claims based as a result of their research:
- Only 30 percent of 13-year-olds read almost every day.
- The number of 17-year-olds who never read for pleasure increased from 9 percent in 1984 to 19 percent in 2004.
- Almost half of Americans between ages 18 and 24 never read books for pleasure.”
- The average person between ages 15 and 24 spends 2 to 2 1/2 hours a day watching TV and 7 minutes reading.
It is sad to see the minuscule amount of Americans reading for pleasure. The study did not measure pleasure reading for young readers, however it appears that by the time children reach middle school reading for pleasure is limited and continues to decline.
This data is very concerning. It raises the question of where did things go wrong. I have witnessed the excitement of watching my first grader learn how to read, and yet the thirst to read books is also rivaled by his desire to play his Nintendo DS (hand held game system). I believe it is important to encourage reading for pleasure in children of all ages. In our fast paced society we often find ourselves reading for duty and neglecting the pleasure of reading.
The textbook Subjects Matter promotes creating a reading community within the classroom. The idea is to provide students with the opportunity to actively share and discuss books of interest. I agree that establishing a time for pleasure reading is essential in creating lifetime learners. Teachers are often only focused on students reading for course content. The research supports the need for teachers to embrace pleasure reading at the secondary level.
By what other means should we attempt to preserve the love for pleasure reading? Are there additional ways to reconnect the middle school and high school aged students’ love of reading?