The NBA had a ‘Reading is Fundamental’ campaign a few years ago encouraging young people to pick up a book and read. The flaw in their slogan was trying to convince kids Reading is Fun when, for so many children who are reading well below their grade level, reading is not fun.
In my short time as a substitute teacher, I saw how young students were discouraged from doing mathematics because every problem was in the form of a word problem. If a child is already having trouble reading, there’s no way they’re going to enjoy math because it becomes another reading class. It’s not like in our day when we learned math by solving many math equations before ever seeing a math word problem.
There’s a large group of adults who don’t read a single book a year. They don’t subscribe to any magazines and don’t read a newspaper regularly. This doesn’t mean folks aren’t reading more than ever, though. Social media has people reading short bursts of content on an almost constant basis but this type of reading doesn’t do much to encourage or prepare people to read longer form content.
I often hear people say they don’t buy or read newspapers because of all the negative news, while they’re okay watching TV news spouting bad news stories from communities they don’t even live in. It’s not about the bad news, it’s all about having no appetite for the written word. Even when I ask people what they’d like to read, they rarely come up with an answer because they just would rather not read anything.
In our society, you can almost get away with being totally illiterate and still be able to have a successful life – ask R. Kelly. But it gets really hard for our young scholars to adjust to higher education when they haven’t had experience reading at the level and pace required in college. Fortunately, many determined students make the adjustment quickly and catch up within a year or two, but a lot of others end up dropping out of school not realizing how far behind they were during their high school years.
The days of having 2 daily newspapers on the kitchen table, or spending a lazy Sunday afternoon reading the Sunday editions of your favorite newspaper, or being in the Book of the Month Club, or subscribing to a half dozen magazines, or reading the book before going to see the movie, are all gone for many of us. I’m constantly reminded from my social media creations how people form an opinion by just reading a headline and viewing the feature photo. They’ll go so far as to make comments on posts and share them with others without even taking the time to read it first.
There is value in reading newspapers. Those of us who publish them recognize we have to keep the articles interesting and short so we don’t overwhelm most people. We feel it’s important to give you the stuff you enjoy reading in hopes you read it.
Go enjoy a candy bar for finishing this article. You deserve it!