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Choosing the Right Book

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A few months ago, I wrote a post about a new study which concluded that kids weren't reading as much. As an avid reader, motivating people to read is something I'm very interested in, and so I was excited to see this article in The Oregonian, which attempts to answer some of the questions I raised in my previous post. Here's an excerpt:

School librarians say they know the secrets to drawing kids away from TV and computer screens and into books. But it requires an insider's knowledge of young adult books. And with fewer and fewer librarians in Oregon schools--390 for the state's 560,000 students, down from 576 certified school librarians five years ago--they worry the magic isn't happening for enough kids.

Finding the right book seems to be a big factor in whether or not kids will choose a book over TV, according to the article. It's important to match students up with a book that has an interesting subject matter and style, and one that is written at an appropriate reading level, experts say. It's important to note, too, that because of increased reading instruction, students are better equipped than ever to read more complicated books, the article says.

Of course, there are other factors that contribute to a lack of reading motivation in students, but not being able to find the right book is something I know I, and a lot of other readers, can relate to. I can't count the number of times I've started a book with the best of intentions only to find myself, weeks later, still painfully plodding through it--too stubborn to admit that I really just don't like it, and my enthusiasm for reading brought to a screeching halt. It's only when I finally put the book down--either because I've finished it or given up--and pick up one that grabs my attention that I remember why I read in the first place: it's enjoyable. It reminds me that reading doesn't have to be an arduous chore. And obviously, I'm much more likely to make time in my schedule to read if I actually like what I'm reading.

What can we do to make sure that students get introduced to books that stimulate them and spark their interest? How do we make sure they know that reading doesn't have to be a task they must toil over?

1 Comment

I have written several commentaries, arguing that the so-called decline in reading never happened. Please see, for example, "Are We Reading Less and Reading Worse? Probably Not." Second article listed at: http://www.districtadministration.com/pulse/resultpage.aspx?bloggerid=16

A brief version, letter published in USA Today:

Where's evidence U.S. 'reading less'?
USA Today, letters
Stephen Krashen, professor emeritus, University of Southern California - Los Angeles
Nov. 27, 2007

There is very little evidence to support USA TODAY's claim that Americans are reading less for pleasure ("Americans close the book on recreational reading," Life, Nov. 19).

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) report claimed that reading was declining the most for 13- and 17-year-olds.

The report quotes the Pew Research Center, which found that in 2006 only 38% of adults said they read a book the previous day. The NEA report fails to note that in 2002, Pew found that 34% of adults read a book the previous day.

Also, when all kinds of reading are considered, such as magazines, newspapers and material posted on the Internet, young people report reading about an hour a day, according to a 2005 Kaiser Family Foundation report.

American writers have been complaining about the decline of literacy since 1874, when more than half of Harvard's candidates flunked an entrance exam. There was no clear evidence of a decline then, and there isn't any now.


Comment added by S Krashen to USA Website, usatoday.com
In checking the 2002 Pew report, I discovered that in 1994, only 31% of adults said they read a book the previous day. This is more evidence that the trend since 1994 is up, not down, more reading, not less.
Read a book yesterday:
1991: 31%
1995: 35%
2000: 35%
2006: 38%

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