Sunday, July 11, 2004

A nation of non-readers

Who has time to read except for native bookworms? And we're a very strange species, refractive to any fads or trends.

Kids these days have tons of homework and even more extracurricular activities, sports, dance. So I'm not surprised at all to see "Report shows a big drop in reading" from the other NEA, the National Endowment for the Arts:
The reading of books is on the decline in America, despite Harry Potter and the best efforts of Oprah Winfrey. A report released Thursday by the National Endowment for the Arts says the number of non-reading adults increased by more than 17 million between 1992 and 2002.

Only 47 percent of American adults read "literature" (poems, plays, narrative fiction) in 2002, a drop of 7 points from a decade earlier. Those reading any book at all in 2002 fell to 57 percent, down from 61 percent.

NEA chairman Dana Gioia, himself a poet, called the findings shocking and a reason for grave concern.

"We have a lot of functionally literate people who are no longer engaged readers," Gioia said in an interview with The Associated Press. "This isn't a case of `Johnny Can't Read,' but `Johnny Won't Read.'"

The likely culprits, according to the report: television, movies and the Internet.

"I think what we're seeing is an enormous cultural shift from print media to electronic media, and the unintended consequences of that shift," Gioia said.
As for the role models, the parental units: who has time to read as well?

And while superficially, the blame is on electronic media, I think the real culprit is lifestyle. Lack of time, again, which seems to be my meme for the day.

But I'm afraid behind lack of time is not enough money. We have to work harder for less; leisurely activies such as reading literature happens when we have extra time on our hands.