How do we get people reading again or introduce them to reading?
We have to accept that reading is different in that it stimulates thinking and imagery that is often served up on a plate with other media. After all, you don’t have to imagine what someone looks like when they are stood as large as life in front of you on a screen.
We have seen many charity and government-backed initiatives and ones driven by the industry itself but the bottom line is that at best they are treading water and at worst losing the battle. We may all cheer from the battlements when books are donated and given away free to folk but if this is not succeeding we have to ask whether the focus and process is correct and what we have to do to really engage and make a difference.
The YouTube age is impacting not just the young but the older generations. We are becoming more and more visual and increasingly time poor. Giving someone a book is not addressing the problem and merely compounding it. We have to create the thirst and feed the habit not just give someone War and Peace and expect a convert. The studies don’t lie. The latest from the National Literacy Trust study of 34,910 young people, claimed nearly a third of children between eight and 16 say they read no text-based media at all in their daily leisure time and that the number of children who read outside school has fallen by 25% since 2005.
Many thought that children’s reading was migrating from print to digital, but in reality their consumption of information is moving away from reading or writing text. Their attitude to reading have also become more negative over time. This was reflected in 21.5% of young people agreeing with the statement, “I would be embarrassed if my friends saw me read,” up from 16.6% on the 2010 study.