The real reason Americans don't read

The real reason Americans don't read
The truth is that the decline of reading for pleasure has little to do with the things that teachers, librarians and parents seem to think are causing it. The majority of American adults are literate, and high school English curriculums are meant to teach them to analyze literature, not enjoy it. (It's a wonder even as many as half of Americans still enjoy reading after being subjected to "The Scarlet Letter.") The reasons are more complex than that, and it's not at all clear that better education or higher literacy would change Americans' reading habits.

Unlike, say, watching a movie, reading a book is necessarily a private experience.


Ironically, since I became a librarian I have no time to read for fun.

I have a corporate job which is fairly intense. When I was working in an academic library I was working on my MLS. During that time my reading was all school related.

Now I'm just too busy. When I get home and try to read, I'm usually asleep after a few pages.

Dillingham said: "Unlike, say, watching a movie, reading a book is necessarily a private experience." (Yeah, try talking out loud to the screen or to other people in the movie theatre, and see how many "Shushes" you get from librarian wannabes).

He could not be more wrong. Those books that have sparked reading have primarily been social events, with the kids, adolsecents and adults talking about them and exchanging ideas and impressions in many bull sessions afterwards. Indeed, those who read Twilight or Harry Potter or Da Vinci Code books re-inforce social groups, and view these books as helping to define their friendships and common likes and dis-likes.

Bible study groups are simliar in that they allow grown ups to expand their minds and analyse their readings in a social support system. The socialability of reading is greatly under-estimated, since it depends so much on intellectual understanding rather than physical prowess.

R. Lee Hadden (These are my own opinions!)

As student editorials go, this one is pretty good, but I quibble with a lot of it.

I think the experience of watching a movie, in terms of how it affects the viewer, is just as personal and private as reading a book. I think what the author meant to say was solitary, and that's not necessarily true either--one of my common childhood memories is of the entire family sitting or lying around the living room, reading books. I'd venture that people with that in their upbringing are more likely to be leisure readers as adults.

The default for reading is silence, too, and that wasn't always the case. In the past I've participated in groups where people would sit around and read plays aloud; why not novels? Audiobooks are popular for a reason (though also because you can listen to them on your commute--in fact, I've been listening to the Iliad as I drive to and from work, and it's reminded me that the written word began as the spoken word).

I suspect that a more important factor is time: you can watch an entire movie in less than two hours, but most novels take longer than that, unless you read really fast. And time is at a premium for a lot of people (which is a whole other issue: if we're so much more productive than our forebears, why is it considered necessary and even virtuous for us to spend more time at work? Every time I hear someone say, "This is a more than 40 hour a week job," I remember my early years in the dot-com industry and wince).

Given that, I'm a little surprised that short stories haven't returned as a popular form of entertainment, especially since they seem to be tailor-made for the Web, but I'm sure there are other factors I'm missing there.

Aside from socialization, cognitive & motor skills, one of the reasons for Storytime is to: "Instill the life long Love of Libraries and Reading".

Some libraries actually have an outreach program for prenatal reading, but here we just provide 4 storytimes a week for Toddlers (ages 0-3 years old) and Preschoolers (ages 3-5 years old). We also have a 6-8 week long Summer Reading Program with performers and reading incentives.

I have seen many of our former storytime attendees come in as colleges students searching for research materials.

I also believe (as a former non-reader) that now as the publishing field grows to included more of the children's paperback series, manga, young teen & teen genre fiction...(more things of interest to those younger age groups) we will see a growth in literacy and reading for pleasure.

Mi Takuye Oyacin

I feel that the time that people used to spend reading books has been replaced by reading blogs, etc on the internet for pleasure. I'm an MLIS student, and was an American Lit B.A , but I too feel that I have not been reading actual books for a while now. I got a Sony e-Reader for Christmas so we'll see how that changes. It might be an easy way to read or reread those classics

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