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Endorse Reading

Guardian UK reports that the number of children reading for fun has declined since 2005. The proportion of children reading for pleasure has declined as their time is crowded with other activities, and more than a fifth never read in their own time. This is the UK stat, I wonder what the number would be in the United States? School days are shorter here, and children seem to spend more time watching TV and playing video game.

My youngest aunt taught me to read (mostly English). She was a school teacher back in Hong Kong. She was appalled, when she was young and I was younger, that she could read and I couldn’t. So she took my education into her own hands (my parents worked 9-to-5 jobs), sitting me down and making sure I was paying attention while she carefully drew letters on a little chalkboard, sounding out words for me, writing up vocabulary lists. Best of all, she would read to me: Beatrix Potter, Dr. Seuss, Richard Scarry, Beverly Cleary. I was barely four, and pre-school was a concept unheard of.

At first, I think, I loved the materteral attention as much as I loved the books themselves. But gradually, the books grew on me, and before long I was devouring them on my own. I’m forever indebted to my aunt for imparting in me the love of reading. As a teenager, I was an undiscriminating reader, blissfully unaware of the lines between high culture and low (maybe except for romance). I read it all: classic works of the western and eastern canon, pulpy novelization of disasters, paperback collections of detective stories.


4 Responses

  1. I don’t know. I’ve heard this same thing since I was a teenager. That’s more than 30 years of decline so far.

    • In 50 years we might not even have books or reading classes. Who knows? I walked by the playground and it seems to me there are more kids around after they have returned to school.

  2. Interesting stats. I picked up reading at age 12 and it was on my own volition. I had fewer reading friends.

    • The best gift anyone can pass on to kids is the encouragement to read. What they read is for life. I don’t think kids would love reading if they are forced to do it. The challenge for educators and parents is to make reading/books fun for them.

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