The New York Times has reported on an important new study prepared by the National Endowment for the Arts showing how the decline in time spent reading for pleasure is directly correlated to a decline in reading comprehension test scores. As our children age, the read less for the fun of it and as a result their ability to comprehend written material declines. The results apply to adults, too.
That shouldn’t surprise anyone. But why should this be alarming? Do we really need to spend our time reading just for the fun of it when there are so many other things to do? Well, stating that folks reading for the sheer pleasure is value laden and perhaps shouldn’t be put in those terms. Clearly people are finding more pleasure in watching TV or surfing the web or in video games.
Decline reading comprehension does hit the pocket book, however. Life whizzes by, and things change constantly. Everyone needs to retool just to stay in the same place, and the pace is quickening. Reading is the key to this.
Having taught many years at a community/technical college, I met many older students left without a job when the company closed down. Others could see the handwriting on the wall. Those who could read well, did well. Those who couldn’t had limited, and unappealing economic prospects waiting outside the door. Employers find a world of better readers a world away in India, China or Russia.