Kids Need to Read

This article appeared in the NY Times and says that kids appear to be reading less for fun and that reading and writing scores are declining. From the article:

"In his preface to the new 99-page report Dana Gioia, chairman of the endowment, described the data as “simple, consistent and alarming.”

Among the findings is that although reading scores among elementary school students have been improving, scores are flat among middle school students and slightly declining among high school seniors. These trends are concurrent with a falloff in daily pleasure reading among young people as they progress from elementary to high school, a drop that appears to continue once they enter college. The data also showed that students who read for fun nearly every day performed better on reading tests than those who reported reading never or hardly at all."

There is argument over whether this is indeed true. The study, this time, did include all kinds of reading including literary and pleasure. Here's what a comment from someone who disagrees:

"Timothy Shanahan, past president of the International Reading Association and a professor of urban education and reading at the University of Illinois at Chicago, suggested that the endowment’s report was not nuanced enough. “I don’t disagree with the N.E.A.’s notion that reading is important, but I’m not as quick to discount the reading that I think young people are really doing,” he said, referring to reading on the Internet. He added, “I don’t think the solutions are as simple as a report like this might be encouraging folks to think they might be.”

If Mr. Shanahan means by that, kids should read more then maybe that is simplistic. I do believe, however, that kids have many more distractions than ever before.


Anonymous said…
The decline at Middle and High school is probably due to lack of time. When you factor in excessive (2 hours a night) homework, playing a sport, and perhaps even a job, where would the time come from? When my kids were in elementary school they read a whole lot more, and they read for pleasure. Now in middle school my son is always bogged down with homework, projects, a sport....when he does get a few minutes to himself he is not looking for a book. Sadly, I think he is burned out.

I think excessive homework is ruining our kids.
Anonymous said…
Annon said:
"I think excessive homework is ruining our kids."

Could be homwork, jobs, sports, ipods, cars, dates, or just life in general that is the burn out.

But it is probably not reading.

The ITBS reading scores from 2000 - 2006 were constant for grades 3, 6, & 9.

WASL reading scores increased significantly in grades 4, 7, & 10 over those same years; with an exceptionally large increase in grade 7.

Who is Dr. Bergeson attempting to fool now?
Anonymous said…
Too much homework? The report indicates that "15- to 24-year-olds spend only 7-10 minutes per day on voluntary reading" while they spend "2 to 2 1/2 hours per day watching TV."

The Executive Summary of the report can be found here.

It's worth looking at.
Anonymous said…
What is so wrong with watching TV???

Kids are up at 630A, at school at 715A, in school for 6 hours, home at 3PM. Two hours of homework and a sport practice, dinner, and a shower. What is wrong with a bit of downtime?? Sitting on a couch and relaxing whether with a book, music, or the TV. Whatever relaxes you....

I know after a long day with the kids, work, laundry, dinner, and everything else in between, I like to watch a favorite TV show before going to bed. Quite frankly sometimes I am just to tired to read. It's easier to veg out in front of the TV, and after a long, productive day, I think I have earned that right.
Anonymous said…
Anon at 9:45,

I don't think the report was suggesting that there is anything inherently wrong with watching TV. The point of the comparison was 2-2 1/2 hours of TV is too much when voluntary reading is limited to 7-10 minutes.

So the point is not "no TV" but "less TV and more voluntary reading." The report suggests a link between the decline in voluntary reading and reading comprehension. Personally, I would guess that the decline in reading comprehension is also linked to what young people read, e.g., text messages, MySpace, etc.

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