Saturday, October 11, 2008

Readers - An Endangered Species?

Is the writing on the wall for reading?

In a piece in the Independent by education editor Richard Garner asks whether the days of children reading traditional books are numbered. Jonathan Douglas, the director of the National Literacy Trust cites a survey of nearly 30,000 pupils which shows that in the UK :

... children's reading habits slump dramatically after they start at secondary school. The typical eight-year-old reads nearly 16 books a year but, by the time they reach 15 or 16, this has dwindled to just over three books per year. The big drop-off starts after the first year of secondary school, when the number of books read falls from nearly 12 a year to just six.
The study also shows a growing trend towards reading comics, magazines, newspapers and online articles, and playing computer games.

Douglas says publishers need to adapt to the challenge :
They have to produce more graphic novels. Children are much more visually conscious than they were before – and the book trade must reflect this.
On the same theme, really, Reading Copy links to a lovely article in the Chicago Tribune about a couple of mad keen bookaholics but asks, quite rightly, why should those who love books be considered oddballs?


Aravin said...

sharon, what do you think about the belief that reading a lot of fiction fosters good writing skills?

Ida Hariati Hashim said...

Dear Sharon,

Kids nowadays have poor writing skills because they read less. As a teacher, I believe reading is the ONLY way to improve writing. Through my observation, those who are able to write well are those who have read extensively.

I have had a hard time trying to convince my form three students to read the novel "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde", for the preparation of their PMR exams. They think the story is just too dark and gloomy, thus, unable to learn the good values between the lines.

Reading is like breathing to me..I wonder how a person survives not reading anything in his life. Reminds me of Mrs Beckhams, she said she has never read a book in her life, poor lady!

Anonymous said...

Hi Sharon,
Sorry to jump into your blog with an unrelated topic.
I was googling Romesh Gunasekera (having just finished "Reef") and was led here.
You have met him and he was in Malaysia! Had I met him, I would have asked him a very pedestrian question: Do you cook?
Reef was full of loving reference to good food and cooking. I was completely seduced. String hoppers, love cake, sambol....
Oondarjte, too, in his autobiographical "Running in the Family".
(Hey, what's with these Sri Lankan natives?)
Can name you many more books with food and even murder throw in. Idi's banquet, The Debt to Pleasure (John Lanchester)... ok, ok, I will stop.

Ms Cooks, Eats and Reads

bibliobibuli said...

Aravin - i think ida answered the question for me - and very well!

but Ida, maybe it will help if you show these guys one of the film versions to go with the text. i remember seeing an old black and white film before i read the book and being quite spooked by it. but i did love the book.

ms cooks - that's a lovely question to ask Romesh and if i get the chance, i will ask it.

your question is such a nice one i should put it up in front.

Anonymous said...

hi sharon, i am looking for books (fiction)by malaysian writers or books that are about malaysia or the south east asia region.I have got books by Tan Twan Eng,Tash Aw and Preeta Samarasan. Do you have any suggestions for others that i could get.

Argus Lou said...

Maybe quite important is showing or giving the adolescents books with topics that interest them. One of my nieces went for chick-lit and the other went for fantasy. But they didn't really read that much when they were younger and I think that resulted in their English being not very good today.

savante said...

More graphic novels? Seriously doubt that would bring the kids back to the more traditional paperbacks but it's worth a try.

I think having their parents read would help. I don't think I ever started reading because I wanted to. I read because everyone else in the family did it.

I read all sorts though from comics to books so it's all good for me :)

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