From the Harry Potter article:
“Unless there are scaffolds in place for kids — an enthusiastic adult saying, ‘Here’s the next one’ — it’s not going to happen,” said Nancie Atwell, the author of “The Reading Zone: How to Help Kids Become Skilled, Passionate, Habitual, Critical Readers” and a teacher in Edgecomb, Me. “And in way too many American classrooms it’s not happening.” "
"In a study commissioned last year by Scholastic, Yankelovich, a market research firm, reported that 51 percent of the 500 kids aged 5 to 17 polled said they did not read books for fun before they started reading the series. A little over three-quarters of them said Harry Potter had made them interested in reading other books."
"But creating a habit of reading is a continuous battle with kids who are saturated with other options. During a recent sixth-grade English class at the John W. McCormack Middle School in the Dorchester section of Boston, Aaron Forde, a cherubic 12-year-old, said he loved playing soccer, basketball and football. On top of that, he spends four hours a day chatting with friends on MySpace.com, the social networking site.
He had read the first three Harry Potter books, but said he had no particular interest in reading more. “I don’t like to read that much,” he said. “I think there are better things to do.”"From the library article:
"It was Harry Courtright, director of the 15-branch Maricopa County Library District, who came up with the idea of a Dewey-less library. The plan took root two years ago after annual surveys of the district’s constituency found that most people came to browse, without a specific title in mind."
"Further, though the branch is part of a new high school, the atmosphere is not of a kind generally associated with much research. At its center are not books, or computers, or even a reference desk, but rather a cluster of pastel-colored couches and chairs. And while even chain bookstores still put out classics like “Jane Eyre,” “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and “Moby Dick” for summer display, at Perry such books have taken a back seat to Paris Hilton’s “Confessions of an Heiress,” a children’s book by the New York Yankee catcher Jorge Posada and Chris Gardner’s “Pursuit of Happyness.”"
These got me to thinking about my kids and kids in general. My sons grew up avid readers. My oldest read when he was 3 and a half (I didn't teach him, he just started reading) and his brother loved to be read to (but started reading at the end of first grade which is probably typical). I had to read the first 4 Harry Potters to them aloud (raise your hand if you've read one of these books aloud; all those voices and the length! It gives me appreciation for people who do it for a living.). I felt that my husband and I had set them on a good path.
Don't get me wrong; they still read. But I'm not seeing them as engrossed as they were before. The other distractions of 2007 are there; tv, computer, video games, friends, movies, etc. I feel it a struggle to keep them reading (even as their father and I read constantly).
Then I see these articles and start to worry about reading life after Harry Potter ends (will Paul Simon starting singing, "Where have you gone, JK Rowling? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you." After we turn the libraries into Barnes and Noble. About the casual way we are thinking of libraries as drop-in spots to drink coffee and browse books. I don't want to go back to the hushed days and shushing librarians but are these two articles a worrisome trend?