Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Teen Reading

Question: Are teens really not reading?

Problem/Quote: “Over the last several years, the popular and scholarly presses have been rife with publications reporting that teens are not reading. The widely publicized 2004 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) study ‘Reading at Risk’ claimed: ‘Literary reading in dramatic decline.’ In 2007, a follow-up study ‘To Read or Not to Read,’ (NEA, 2007) indicated that young adults were reading significantly less in print.” P. 254.

Answer: The author says teens ARE reading, but not necessarily traditional books. They are reading on the Internet. They are reading e-books and they are listening to audio books—it’s all reading says the author.

Comment: This study is limited. I will be looking for evidence that teens are reading across modes, such as e-books and audio-books. I’m pretty sure they are reading on the Internet.

I am not a “normal” reader of traditional books. I don’t read page by page—at least initially. I skim, scan, sample text as a way of familiarizing myself with the ideas in the text. Sometimes that sampling is all I need to read. Sometimes I only need to read parts of the book. The sampling points out what I need to read. Sometimes I need to read the entire book. In this “sampling” phase, I don’t read every word on every page, of every chapter, from first word to last.

 E-books encourage reading page by page. Sampling, as I do initially, is cumbersome with e-books. Audio books also “read” every word on every page, in order. I confess I don’t know how people read on the Internet. I usually select topics  then tend to read everything—if it’s reasonably short.

I’m suggesting two ideas about today’s reading. Is it occurring across modes, with adults as well as teens? And how do these readers read? I submit that active reading is what I do—skim, scan, sample—and that can occur most easily in traditional books. RayS.

Title: “What Does It Really Mean to ‘Read’ a Text?” Jessica E. Moyer. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy (November 2011), 250=256.

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