Comments: 5
Ungh... Arrr... Books! 10 years ago
Congrats on being invited to join the panel. :)

Hmm, the reluctant readers that I know are quick gratification types. They don't think they have enough time to read or I've also heard that if they read a chapter here and there that the overall impact of the book will become lost... so they turn to movies and other media. I had a friend recently tell me that if the book was so good that she'd catch it on HBO or the cinema when it gets there. Most of my friends are in their 30's, are educated and are already fulfilling their career dreams, and many are starting families.

Most of my younger cousins read (age range from 14-23) and are very enthusiastic to talk about the new series they've picked up. Mostly middle-grade to young adult. One of my cousins became interested in reading when she discovered the booktube community on youtube and her sister became interested because of the Nerd Fighter community. My cousins are all from middle-class families and do great in school but I think the community factor probably played the biggest role in sparking their interest.

So, I guess I don't think the educational system or the publishing industry (the content of what they put out) is to blame for reluctant readers. I think it's a much larger problem that probably has to do with "what's cool" and whether the person feels they have enough time to invest. Marketing might be the problem? Enough peer pressure for most folks will get them to spend their time reading, even if it's something like 50 Shades of Grey. :P
William's Book Blog 10 years ago
Thank you!

The quick gratification types - that certainly chimes with my own instinct (and experience).

(still asking widely) Do we see evidence of gender bias? Are girls more enthusiastic readers than boys?

What about authors themselves, seeing the reluctant reader market as "dumbing down", so perhaps a bit of author snobbery at play? Or just too much like hard work?

And while educators may not be to blame, what about funding for libraries? Half the libraries in my area have shifted to a voluntary/community model because they're no longer funded by local government. In poorer areas, similar libraries just get closed.
William's Book Blog 10 years ago
Indeed - and when you say "encountered Harry Potter", for many that will have been through the easy-to-digest movies. I can imagine those teens(?) turning in desperation to the book, only because the next movie isn't released yet.

"reading being work" - because it's first presented in the context of school, perhaps. At home, we have the TV to entertain, and that's effortless, and doesn't impinge on the precious time of the hardworking parent. So the child only encounters books in the classroom, when being made to study Great Expectations or whatever. It's tempting to ban books at the school, to force a secret book-reading rebellion.

Here's another thought - as a society, are we reaping the consequences of failing to read to our children at home? My father didn't just read to me, but he made up stories, too. It was a fantastic stimulus for me to develop my imagination and my vocabulary, so that moving to the printed word was no great stretch. He invested precious time and effort, but where and how does a modern parent get equipped for storytelling?
Ungh... Arrr... Books! 10 years ago
I kept on finding ever larger issues to what could create reluctant readers while I mulled this over yesterday. I also landed on issues with different types of families. I thought about the parents that want to connect with their children instantly in the short time frames they might have available (TV and movies does seem easier), how they might not think going to the library is a social activity and how some might just not care at all. I'm not sure this is as important as I had expected.

I asked my husband about his upbringing and he said his parents left his education to the schools and never even cared if his grades were good or bad (they did buy him books when they could afford them). When I asked him if the school system was what saved him he said not specifically, for him it was avoiding other students and spending all his free time in the back of the library. He then went on to say that if he had had a cell phone in those days (mid-90s) he probably would have turned out 'dumb as a rock.'

My sister is a primary school teacher. When I asked her about reluctant readers she said that for the children in her class (age 8-9) it is not easy to determine. She said it's obvious for the children who have a difficult time reading. For those that can read well, she said some just connect better with books while others connect better with other subjects. Almost all of them will check out books based on the subjects they find most interesting (not surprising). I asked her about gender bias, she said that both boys and girls in her class are enthusiastic about reading and get really excited when the book fair arrives. The current books these children expressed most interest in are "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" and "Harry Potter (the first two books in the series)".

So, this doesn't really narrow anything down. Oh! Your comment "...turning in desperation to the book", my husband mentioned that, too. He became a Michael Crichton fan because of Jurassic Park. He also mentioned that he wasn't reading age appropriate books. I had the same experience, my parents never monitored which books or movies I had an interest in. Maybe something about this has changed? Do teenagers have a more difficult time checking out adult books these days? Do they feel trapped in the Young Adult genre?