Did you know that many, many children stop reading in their teenage years? I've spoken to mothers, great mothers, who shake their heads and mourn the fact that their teenage children don't read. They blame this decline in reading on a lack of good books for teens, our current pop culture, and the busyness of school.
I don't know the answers for this problem—my oldest is just becoming a teenager—but I do know that this is a grave problem, and it deserves more than a shake of the head as exemplified by the points in this article.
Reading is not something to mess around with. If we want to stay vibrant culturally, economically, spiritually as a country, we must read. We must.
This article (sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts) makes it very clear, Americans are reading books at significantly lower rates than they were twenty years ago. Reading comprehension skills are eroding. These declines have serious civic, social, cultural, and economic implications.
Here's a sample of the statistics in this report:
Less than one-third of 13-year-olds are daily readers. • The percentage of 17-year-olds who read nothing at all for pleasure has doubled over a 20-year period. Yet the amount they read for school or home- work (15 or fewer pages daily for 62% of students) has stayed the same.
If Americans overall are reading less, should it surprise us that our teenagers are reading less?
Several years ago, I went to a church congregation where many of the teenagers skipped Sunday School to go hang out in the parking lot. Quite a few adults bemoaned this. There was a great deal of discussion on how to motivate these teens to go to their church classes. But most of this bemoaning was done during adult Sunday School—a class many of the adults themselves were skipping.
How could we expect our teens to go to Sunday School when many of the adults were not?
How can we expect our teens to read when we do not?
I really believe if the adults in this country read for fun, on a daily basis, the teens would too. Then we wouldn't have a high school drop out rate of nearly thirty percent. Kids wouldn't need reading comprehension strategies. They would know how to read because they read. Often.
The entire world would be a better place.
Has your entire family given these books a try?
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart and its sequels. This series is a family favorite—a family affair. Even Sam has partaken and even Sam has loved them.
If you haven't tried them—please do! They aren't for everyone, but they are for many, and they just might get a teen in your home reading again. Because texting just doesn't count.