America’s continuously falling reading rates are a concerning trend

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Looking back on childhood memories is one of my favorite things to do because of that warm and fuzzy feeling one gets while remembering a happy time. One of my favorite memories is learning how to read. I remember being jealous that my sister could read books by herself while I had to be read to. This made me determined to learn how to read. I felt so accomplished when I could read my first book all by myself.

While I did lose interest in reading for a little while, it is one of my favorite things to do now. The sad thing is that there is a declining rate of reading in America. Overall, it has been lowered by 10 percent, but, in the age range of 18-24, it has declined by 28 percent. Also, 51 percent of children said they love or like reading books for fun, which declined from 58 percent in 2012 and 60 percent in 2010. Even more, reading enjoyment declines sharply after age 8. This is a disturbing fact because, as children go through school, they should develop a love of reading opposed to losing interest in it.

The rates of interest in reading for enjoyment have declined significantly over the past 30 years. This is proven in the fact that, in 1984, 8 percent of 13-year-olds and 9 percent of 17-year-olds responded that they “never” or “hardly ever” read for enjoyment. This number rose significantly in 2014, as 22 percent of 13-year-olds and 27 percent of 17-year-olds responded that they “never” or “hardly ever” read for enjoyment.

These raising rates of losing the motivation to read is a part of a declining importance put on reading in the overall culture. While social media does play a hand in this lack of reading, it is not the sole issue.

The problem carries into the educational system. If teachers do not convey a love of reading and fail to relay to their students that it is important, then this interest in reading for enjoyment will continue to decline.

TV show stereotypes also do not help because, all too often, the character that reads is seen as a nerd. This is problematic because most children strive to fit in and do not want to be singled out as a nerd.

On top of this, parents have also begun reading less to their children. Children ages 2-7 were read to for 45 minutes a day on average in 1999, but in 2013, that number dropped to an average of just over 30 minutes per day. This is a major obstacle because children follow their parents’ example, and, if their parent does not read to them, there is the chance that not only will they not learn to read until they start school, but they will not have a desire to read.

One final statistic is that 45 percent of 17-year-olds say they only read once or twice a year, and yet in 1984, 64 percent said they read once a week or more. This shows that reading declined a significant amount, and it is now considered fortunate if a 17-year-old reads once a year. This is particularly concerning given that 17-year-olds used to read once a week or more.

A loss of reading will not only impact the learning of students, but it will also impact the culture of America as a whole. Books are written to comment on society and teach us about how to better ourselves, but they are also an art form in their use of language and imagination.

If there is a lack of reading, then there will soon be a lack of publishing new stories, and books could one day become a thing of the past.

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