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Is Reading at Risk?

Like most working moms, my time for leisure reading is limited and most of the reading I do is on the computer. I enjoy researching as well as reading articles and books, but when my children see me on the computer they think I am either working, which I probably do too much, or engaging with people on social media because that is how they identify with technology. When I am reading on the computer, they do not see it as reading for enjoyment and do not appear to be picking up on my love of reading. I wonder if this is the case in other families and what type of effect it will have on this generation. Will reading for enjoyment decline for our children due to technology? Does anyone else see this as a problem?

I know my kids are watching everything I do from how I manage money to what a healthy marriage looks like, and I wish I was the type of person who could sit down with a good book and model positive reading habits. I have plenty of books and magazines on my bedside table, but when my kids pass by my bedroom door they see me sitting in bed with my computer on my lap. I could be reading a book and am likely reading articles, but I believe my kids think I am working. As a result of my reading habits, I fear my kids are growing up without a love of reading.

I started to wonder what the effects of technology on reading habits are and found two interesting studies with very different points of view on the topic.

In June of 2004, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) released Reading At Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America. According to Dana Gioia, Chairman at NEA, “the report can be summarized in a single sentence: literary reading in America is not only declining among all groups, but the rate of decline has accelerated, especially among the young.”

A 2005 Canadian study by the Department of Canadian Heritage, Reading and Buying Books For Pleasure, compared these results with a similar study conducted in 1991, Reading in Canada. The general overview of the study states, “Contrary to certain alarmist claims that there is a trend towards a lower reading rate in our society or that the Internet has had harmful effects on reading habits, this national survey has shown that reading for pleasure remains a solidly established and widespread habit with little or no change over the last 15 years.”

I don’t know what to believe but I do know my kids are taking after their mother and spending more time staring at a computer screen than reading a book, and the “mommy guilt” is in full swing.

Click here to Read:  Reading At Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America

Click here to Read:  Reading and Buying Books for Pleasure