18 February 2008

How much have you reading recently?

Clearly, an issue that's near and dear to all of us ... what does the future hold?

I was reading a recent National Endowment for the Art research report: To Read or Not to Read, November, 2007. I like to read but not as frequently and it seems I'm not alone. It seems young people and adults are reading less too. The below percentages have decreased since the last time this data was collected for a report published five years ago.

Age ............% reading a book for fun
18-24 ........52
25-34........ 59
35-44........ 59

But these percentages aren't bad - are they? The majority of people are reading something for fun.

As a teacher it's impossible for me to motivate students to read. I can assign it and still most students won't read. I think reading is a cultivated skill, like drinking coffee or using hot sauce.
The results of this report didn't bother me until I read the indicators around employment.....

- 38% of employers find high school graduates “deficient” in reading comprehension,
while 63% rate this basic skill “very important.”
- One in five U.S. workers read at a lower skill level than their job requires.
- in 2003 70% of adults contacted said that their reading skill is below their job requirements.

Now that scares me. If those adults are saying that today, then what are we going to be saying in 20 years when the teenagers now are the adults? Yet, what can we do to inspire students to care to read?

From the report there were some straightforward findings .....
- students who read for fun just once or twice a week score significantly higher in tests
- student who have books in the home are more likely to read more often

Despite the range of employer-respondents, a clear majority viewed two basic skills
as “very important” for new workforce entrants, regardless of education level those
skills are reading and writing.

We have to get back to the basics in K-12 schools. Improving reading and writing is bound to positively impact all the other subjects, along with producing life skills as pointed out by this report.

Read the report here.

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