I am still puzzling over an article I came across in the UK Telegraph
According to this only 42% of boys and 48% of girls regularly read fiction. Now I would need to read the actual research to find out more but, assuming the reporter has even the basic figures right, then I am puzzled. Children must be reading.
The report goes on to suggest that children are accessing websites, e-mails, blogs and other social network sites. I am also certain most of them can send a text message on a mobile phone. About a third of children said that reading was 'boring'. Boring?
The article linked to another saying that teenage brains were being 're-wired' by their preference for surfing the net and could have long term negative consequences for the way they learn. What is going on here?
If the research is correct then alarm bells should be ringing. We will have a generation in which a large proportion of people will be unable to read for pleasure and may even be unable to 'read'. They may appear to be able to read but their critical thinking skills will be impaired by a lack of imagination caused by an under exposure to the world of imagination. Anyone who doubts this needs to look at the problems experienced by children who are brought up in cults or rigid religious traditions which do not allow free access to a wide range of ideas. All that has implications for society as wel know it. It will be much easier to manipulate people if their critical thinking skills are reduced. We already have a problem with the manipulation of mass thinking on such issues as climate change, green technology, terrorism etc. Far too many simply believe what they believe they are being told. They cannot critically analyse statements made to and by the media. Failure to read widely and well can only make matters worse.
Fortunately there are still some families where reading is important. This has consequences. In the library yesterday there was a small girl neatly dressed in a sparkling green 'fairy' costume complete with wings and leafy coronet. Someone asked her, "Are you being a fairy?" "No I am not being a fairy. I am a fairy." Sensible answer to a silly question. You can be anything you want to be if you learn to read.