On occasion my friends raid my bookshelf and borrow four to five books at a time. I was walking home from one of said friend’s houses with a pile of books in my arms. While walking home, I passed a man walking his dog. I said hello, the dog yipped and sniffed at me and the man just stared. He looked at his dog and said “Oh she’s carrying books! You don’t see that today.” [Yes, I’m retelling verbatim.] He then proceeded to mumble about how children these days don’t look up from their phones, and seeing me with an arm-load of books was a nice sight.
Now, I do not usually walk around public places with a ton of books. In school I usually only carry one, but it depends on the day. Usually, I’m that teen on my phone. Okay, maybe not since I don’t have a smart phone or anything. But I’m someone who fits into both categories. Just because you don’t normally see someone carrying a ton of books doesn’t mean they aren’t carrying a ton of books in their mind.
My point: Are teens actually reading less – or does it just appear to be that way?
I’ve heard it before. You have probably heard it before. That teenagers – or well, Americans in general – are reading less. I searched ‘teen reading statistics united states’ into Google and the first site [National Endowment for the Arts] that popped up says that 15-24 year olds spend “only seven minutes of their daily leisure time on reading” compared to the “two hours a day watching TV.”
Now I’m all for promoting literacy and all that, but I started questioning how true these statistics were. This week in school I carried around The Fault in Our Stars by John Green because it was so-fantastic-that-I-couldn’t-put-it-down and unfortunately because it was mid-term week, I had to put it down. During class, I had a conversation with one of my guy friends; it went like this:
Guy Friend: What are you reading?
Me: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. It’s amazing.
Guy Friend: I know.
Guy Friend: Yeah, I read it.
Me: You read it?!
And then I proceeded to squeal. I’ve known this kid for four years and I just found out that he reads outside of school. It shouldn’t have come as a shock to me, but it did. It was really cool finding out that he read YA books too. It was also cool that he’s a guy, because it’s harder to find a guy that reads YA books.
Now, teens are supposedly reading less. Maybe I’m just in denial, but maybe they really aren’t. Maybe the kids-that-are-reading ratio has been the same as the kids-that-don’t-read for a while. Maybe the statistics are right. But maybe the statistics are not truly accurate because people read in what I like to call “secret” – they read, but don’t voice that they do because they have no reason to.
I don’t know about you, but I know a lot more people who have picked up a book for enjoyment than someone who has never read a book for fun before.