Reading Decreases as Internet Use Grows
Older children were much more likely to report that they spent time texting their friends or going online, with 70 percent of the teen group saying that they frequently used a cellphone and 53 percent saying that they frequently used social media sites. Any adult who has set aside a book to check email and somehow ended up on Facebook can understand that.
Teachers Can Provide Vital Intervention
The survey offered plenty of ideas about how teachers could encourage reading. At every age, most children said that their favorite books were those that they had chosen themselves. And 73 percent of children said that they would read more if they could find more books that they liked. Parents of infrequent readers were the most likely to say that they had a hard time finding books for their child. This suggests that a teacher could provide the bridge to reading by helping a child find books of interest.
Children were more likely to view reading positively when they had time to read a book of their choice at school, according to the Scholastic survey.
The opportunity for free reading declined for children as they grew older. Among children ages 6 to 8, 50 percent said that they had time at school to read a book of their choice. Yet, among children ages 12 to 14, the number declined to 25 percent, and among those ages 15 to 17, only 14 percent said they had free reading time at school.
So, as children grow older and spend more time with digital devices at home, they are also getting less free reading time at school.
Parents Foster Reading Success
Parents play a primary role in getting children to love reading. Some of the biggest predictors of a child becoming a frequent reader were:
- The child believed that reading for fun was important.
- The parents were frequent readers themselves.
- The parents read books aloud to the child both before and after the child entered kindergarten.
For teens, some additional predictors of frequent reading were:
- The parents had at least 150 books in the home.
- The parents helped the child find books.
- The child read ebooks.
That interest in reading had a big effect on the numbers of books that children reported reading, especially as they reached the teen years. For children ages 6 to 11, frequent readers went through an average of 43 books per year versus 21 books for infrequent readers. For children ages 12 to 17, frequent readers went through an average of 39 books per year versus about 5 books for infrequent readers.
eReading Offers Answers to Some Challenges
Though devices currently seem to be pulling teens away from books, they have the potential to make reading more accessible to students. Two high schools in Illinois have provided tablets to every student, and now those students can check out books from the digital school library 24 hours a day, according to an article in The Digital Shift. This could benefit both students who have few books at home and those who have a hard time selecting books. Students like that they can choose multiple books without adding extra weight to their backpacks.
Some librarians have found that reluctant readers are more willing to read a book on a tablet, according to The Digital Shift article. A thick book that might intimidate them becomes appealing on a screen. Also, remedial readers avoid embarrassment because other students can’t see what they are reading.