The lament of technology reactionaries is all too familiar: Kids don’t read anymore they just text, the golden era of literacy is over, YouTube is making us dumber rather than smarter, etc. While increased access to technology and information certainly does pose challenges and have drawbacks, when it comes to reading and literacy the news today is good. In Anna Quindlen’s April 5, 2010 article for Newsweek, “Turning the Page: The Future of Reading is Backlit and Bright,” she writes:
I am cheered by the Gallup poll that asks a simple question: do you happen to be reading any books or novels at present? In 1952 a mere 18 percent of respondents said yes. The last time the survey was done, in 2005, that number was 47 percent. So much for the good old days.
I’d like to see those survey results for 2010. My suspicion is the trend lines for respondent novel reading had (in 2005) a lot to do with increased access to analog texts, rather than just increased access to digital texts. Both are on the rise today, however, and from a literacy standpoint that’s good news.
Dr. Stephen Krashen, in his outstanding book and meta-analysis of research, “The Power of Reading, Second Edition: Insights from the Research” paints a clear picture of what research says about the quantity of reading material learners consume and the development of reading skills: The more the better. Getting kids (as well as adults) excited and motivated about reading is the key, so we all read MORE. Whether we’re reading fiction, non-fiction, manga or fan fiction, as we read more we become both better readers as well as better writers. That’s one of the key philosophies underlying “The Great Book Stories” project, which utilizes VoiceThread to encourage student sharing of interactive, “21st Century Book Reports,” like this one about “The Lightning Thief” by Rick Riordan.
Check out the interview with my (then) 10 year old son from September 2008, “Brisinger Book Release, Home Run Books, Flow, and Reading Advice from 10 Year Old Alexander,” as well as my September 2006 post, “Improve reading skills with basic solutions” for more elaboration on Krashen’s reading research and how this translates to increased reading skills for students.
We’re living in a great era for learning AND reading!
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