Studies Show Reading Is Cool

Another reason it’s a great time to read and write children’s literature:

In 2004, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) published a study titled Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America, reporting that the number of literature-reading young adults dropped 20 percent between 1982 and 2002—the greatest recorded loss of readership in the country’s history. The decline represented 20 million potential readers and Dana Gioia, NEA Chairman, called it a “national crisis.”

Panic ensued and a flurry of reading incentive programs sprung up around the country, including NEA’s own The Big Read which now operates in all fifty states and even internationally. Then, in a 2009 report, Reading on the Rise, the NEA proudly reported a 21 percent increase in young adult readership which began in 2002 and has continued through 2008.”

The emphasis is mine, but the facts stand alone. Thanks to cultural touchstones like Harry Potter, more kids are reading and more publishers have recognize that this is a huge market that demands good writing. Also, in case you think technology is going to kill the book:

In January 2010, the Kaiser Family Foundation published a comprehensive study of the media habits of more than 2,000 eight to eighteen year-old American children. The study found that the average time spent reading books for pleasure in a typical day rose from 21 minutes in 1999 to 23 minutes in 2004, and finally to 25 minutes in 2010. The rise of screen-based media has not melted children’s brains, despite ardent warnings otherwise: “It does not appear that time spent using screen media (TV, video games and computers) displaces time spent with print media,” the report stated. Teens are not only reading more books, they’re involved in communities of like-minded book lovers. The Story Siren, a young adult online book review authored by an Indiana graduate student gets 3,500-4,000 unique page views a day.”

The internet isn’t the end of the book. It’s helping teens explore books and connect with similar-minded readers. I find this all extremely hopeful for the next generation of readers and writers.

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