As I was scrolling through the eight million twitter updates I seemed to have, one jumped out at me:
80% of US families did not buy a book in 2008.
WHAT? How could that be the case?
As a rabid reader, I cannot imagine not buying a book during the course of the year. Hell, I’ve been known to buy a dozen books during a single trip to a book store. This can’t be right, I thought. So, I did some searching via Google.
And got even more disturbed.
1/3 of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.
42 percent of college graduates never read another book after college.
80 percent of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year.
70 percent of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.
After thinking about this a bit, I recalled a study Garbanzo’s coworker did as part of her reading specialty training. They were both teaching at a very poor school in the inner city, and this school had a high rate of kids who could not read. The ones with the worst gaps were sent for reading help while the classroom teachers tried to close the gap with the rest of the kids. She was curious to see what reading material was in the homes of these kids – books, magazines and newspapers specifically. That was her research project.
She did home visits and interviews with a lot of families. And, what she found – the kids who struggled with reading had no reading material at home. She was amazed that many couldn’t think of 5 or more books or magazines in their house. She even commented that glancing around the living rooms confirmed there was likely nothing in the house. Not one magazine. Not one newspaper. Not one kid’s book.
Garbanzo, upon hearing the results, started understanding why his gift of books to his kids at Christmas went over so well. For many of these kids, no one had ever given them a book before. And, we also started understanding why so many of his classroom library books would wander away never to be seen again. Given he bought these at the county library store for a quarter, we never worried about it. I mean, kids stealing books….it could be a hell of a lot worse.
Looking at our own house, it really isn’t a mystery why our kids are readers. We have so many books in the house that we never have enough places for them. Even though the internet is a good source of information, many times we will grab a book if, say DJ, wants to learn about fossils. Or if Indigo has an interest in US presidents. (Yes, they are both non-fiction freaks.) But, books aside, we have other forms of reading material. We have magazines and newspapers. We, of course, have comic books.
If books cause any issues in our house, it is the fact we never have enough places for them. So we continually are thinning the herd in an attempt to keep it under control. But again – I can think of worse problems to have.
I know many of you all are avid readers. What is on your nightstand right now?