National Edition

Why teens should still read

Published: Saturday, May 17 2014 4:00 a.m. MDT

The rate of teens who "never" or "only occasionally" read for fun has nearly tripled since 1984, according to a recently released report. Some say teens are rejecting opportunities to learn if they don't read for enjoyment.

Getty Images

Enlarge photo»

Despite the popularity of young adult books such as "Twilight," "Divergent" and "The Hunger Games," the rate of tweens and teens who read daily and read for enjoyment has "dropped precipitously," according to a recently released Common Sense Media report.

The report, which includes multiple studies, cites statistics that demonstrate the rate of teens who "never" or "only occasionally" read for fun has nearly tripled since 1984. "At the same time, the percent who report reading almost every day has dropped, from 35 percent to 27 percent among 13-year-olds and from 31 percent to 19 percent among 17-year-olds," the report states.

Jim Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense Media, believes technology is one reason teenagers are reading less, says Jennifer Ludden at NPR.

Ludden explains Steyer, who finds the link between increased access to technology and less reading for fun most apparent with his 16-year-old, said even his 10-year-old is growing more attached to media than books.

"He is less and less reading, and more and more attracted to some of the digital media platforms that he has access to, and that he did not have access to when he was, say, 6 or 7 years old," Steyer said, according to Ludden.

Increased amounts of homework could also contribute to the falling pleasure-reading rate, writes Charlotte Alter at Time.

"It’s no surprise that 53 percent of 9-year-olds read for fun every day, but only 19 percent of 17-year-olds do. Yes, the teenagers have more Instagrams to post, but they also have more homework to do," Alter says.

Frank Bruni, a bestselling author and New York Times Op-Ed columnist, is concerned about teens not reading for fun — and not just out of self-interest, he says.

He explains reading has numerous benefits. For example, Daniel Willingham, a psychology professor, told Bruni reading can help children learn there are rewards in "doing something taxing, in delayed gratification," which is a lesson digital technology does not teach.

And teens who do not read are missing out on the connections they can form with books.

"Books are personal, passionate. They stir emotions and spark thoughts in a manner all their own, and I’m convinced that the shattered world has less hope for repair if reading becomes an ever smaller part of it," says Bruni.

Email: kpolatis@deseretnews.com Twitter: KandraPolatis

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS