Thursday, 27 November 2008

So In Relation...


So after posting a couple of days ago about closing down libraries I had a conversation with some colleagues about the state of reading in this country right now.

I think we all agreed that less and less people are reading, even if it's just a few pages a night like me - most worryingly, this seems to be true of children and teenagers and aren't they the people who need to be reading the most? It does, after all, extend their vocabulary and their overall general knowledge.

I wouldn't exactly say that I'm a book aficionado but I do know a fair bit and I have spent a large number of years studying literature - from this you generally get a good feel of how things should and should not be written (although really the basics of writing should be drilled in during sessions in school - I can't stand bad grammar and spelling).

Since one of my associates teaches English, they know what is and isn't acceptable in the world of teaching. So now we have a parallel - as TV, games console and computer ownership goes up, the number of books being sold and read is going down. Add to this a second parallel - as the number of books being read is going down, the number of kids who can't read, write and communicate properly is going up. And it's going to be difficult to solve since if these kids don't want to read, which is generally the case after they hit the age of 12, literacy skills will be in free fall and we'll have a whole country of illiterates!

(Well, maybe that was an exaggeration but you get the drift....)

My associate pointed out that children don't even have to be reading Shakespeare or Wordsworth to generally increase their reading and writing standard - even works of science fiction, fantasy and crime thrillers will help them because they all have one thing in common - a wide vocabulary and generally impeccable grammar (I say impeccable because, while most books have very few mistakes, I consider the rotten Oxford Comma to be awful and unnecessary!). I would highly recommend people like Terry Pratchett for people who can't stand more realistic concepts - even he involves the politics of the day and the state of our world into his hilarious Discworld novels.

Oh, what to do? I believe we're in a conundrum....

4 comments:

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The Jules said...

"Librarians rule, Ook!"

I agree - not sure it matters what you read as long as you read.

Apart from tea leaves . . .


http://gravelfarm.blogspot.com/

CristinaB. said...

Too true! And a scary thought at that... it's not just limited to the U.S. either, I live in Spain and people here are complaining about the same thing. I try to compensate whenever I can by giving books as gifts. I think I gave a copy of Carlos Ruiz Zafon's Shadows of the Wind to at least 6 friends (1 copy in English, 2 in Spanish and 3 in French)!

Was an interesting post to read!

coolgirlsar said...

This is why I count myself lucky in taht I've encouraged my five year old son Callum to love books as much as I do. Since birth I have pretty much read to him every night at bedtime and lately he comes into our room in the morning with a book and reads or attempt to read it to my husband and I. We both think it's good for him to learn the importance of reading (and writing but never in your reading books!) and to treat books with respect which sadly other kids don't seem to I'm very sadden at times to see how other kids treat books that don't even belong to them. I'm also lucky in that my niece loves to read, apparently she is years ahead of her age group (y years old) and for Christmas we've bought her a Hard Cover copy of 1001 Nights. I do wonder if some schools are to blame with this reading and writing though, we've experienced 3 different schools and their learning ways in the last year and it's amazing how different they are and their stance on what age is best for children to start reading at. Anyway I've rambled enough... sorry.