Are we still a nation of readers? Test scores, surveys, and just our own assessment of how we spend our free time today tell us that something has changed over the past few decades. We aren’t spending as much time with the written word as we once did. Of course, I’m over exagerating the problem, but many scholars and teachers feel that American students don’t read as much as they should. It affects everything else they will do in school, experts say. Is there really a problem?
This article in the New York Times does a good job looking at the problem. Nadia, the typical American teenager introduced to us in the story, doesn’t read in her spare time. Instead she text-messages her friends, spends time online in chat rooms and on favorite Web sites. “Children like Nadia lie at the heart of a passionate debate about just what it means to read in the digital age. The discussion is playing out among educational policy makers and reading experts around the world, and within groups like the National Council of Teachers of English and the International Reading Association,” writes reporter Motoko Rich.
“As teenagersâ€™ scores on standardized reading tests have declined or stagnated, some argue that the hours spent prowling the Internet are the enemy of reading â€” diminishing literacy, wrecking attention spans and destroying a precious common culture that exists only through the reading of books.” It’s an interesting debate, and passions run high on both sides of the issue.