I weep for the world sometimes

The lovely Eva forwarded me this article about a recent Associated Press survey about the nation's reading habits. She must have known that my blood pressure had been taking it relatively easy and needed a kickstart.

They surveyed 1,000 people and found that 1 in 4 people read no books. Like none. At all. But before I could start freaking out about what is wrong with people, I kept reading. According to the article, the people who read no books "tend to be older, less educated, lower income, minorities, from rural areas and less religious." So what this indicates to me is that at least some of the non-reading is to do with literacy levels. If you can't read, or read at a low level, or at a low level in a language that is not English, then of course that would be a barrier. Also, it's harder if you don't have the money to buy books and either don't have access to good library services or are too busy or intimidated to use them.

Yesterday was a good time to read the article because earlier in the day I went to a luncheon at Cache Valley's English Language Center, where they filled the local librarians in about what they're up to. Also they fed us upscale funeral potatoes. Mmmmm . . . funeral potatoes. Anyway. They received a grant to help the children of migrant workers. What the studies are finding is that the ESL training for these kids in school is not enough--they're not retaining what they're learning, so there needs to be more reading at home. So one of their big goals is to get these families reading together at home and using their local libraries. They told us how this program works, and to expect to see some new families coming in--families who might have very limited or no English and who may have never been in a library before. So we need to be sure to be welcoming and helpful, etc. I think this is pretty cool.

But. Back to the article. Here are some more of their findings:

Women read more than men, and old people read more than younger people (shocker).

There are more readers in the Midwest than in the rest of the country. This, to me, makes sense. If I lived in Ohio I would spend as much time as possible with my nose in a book, imagining that I was someplace else.

Southerners are hooked on religious books and romance novels, which sound like strange bedfellows, but whatever. Maybe it's one group reading the Bible and another group reading the smut.

Democrats and liberals read a little bit more than Republicans and conservatives. Am not going to make the obvious joke about conservatives not needing to read because they know everything anyway. Oops, except I kind of just did.

Men read more nonfiction than women do.

And now I'm running late for work, so I can't do anymore analyzing. But seriously, if you can read, will you please pick up a book and read it? If not for me, then do it for the stats.


Janssen said... [reply]

I read this article the other day when my mom sent it to me. How can you seriously go a year without reading ONE SINGLE BOOK? I mean, couldn't you just have read one by accident, without even meaning to?

And I love funeral potatoes.

Azúcar said... [reply]

One problem that people don’t think about when it comes to ESL is that often times the parents are barely literate in their primary language.

It’s all well and good to hope that parents and kids are reading books at home, but if your mom doesn’t read as well as you do, that may not happen.
Some people in the immigrant community are scared to use the library in case you’re reporting to the INS (not that all immigrants are illegal.)

I figure I’m more than helping the stats. I like to be reading a book per room of the house. If I leave the living room and go to the bedroom, I leave my living room book and pick up the silly chick lit on the bedside table.

My spouse doesn’t read books for fun. He’ll do a math problem for fun, but he doesn’t read books. What a wacko.

Miss Hass said... [reply]

What about religious romance novels? Anita Stansfield, anyone? Or how about the entire book section at Wal-mart here? All religious romance. Vomit.

I second what azucar said about ESL. The lack of literacy in a first language is a HUGE barrier and I have no idea how to get past it, but I think getting the kids reading is a good start.

And I'm trying to help the stats by having a book in my purse at all times. And in my bathroom. And by my bed.

Nemesis said... [reply]

Azucar and Hass, your points are good and true. The ELC ladies brought this up too. When they're encouraging parents to read with their kids they use the term "share a book" rather than "read a book," with the idea that parents don't have to be confident readers to be able to share books with their kids. They can talk about the pictures, make up their own stories, have the kids tell THEM the stories, that kind of thing. Which seems like a smart way to approach it, really.

Science Teacher Mommy said... [reply]

About the South. I lived there. It is NOT a different group reading the two sets of books. Southern ladies are an interesting mix of holy and profane. And not just the south, growing up in my house I thought there WERE only two genres--written by the General Authorities or Harlequinn.

My sister in law wants me to write a novel about an bishop's wife who writes smutty novels and makes tons of money doing it. Hm . . . there could be some humor there.

nomadic gnome said... [reply]

Where did I just read somewhere - the interviewer asked a girl (possibly teen starlet) what she was reading.
PTS: Oh, I'm not reading any books right now. I just started school.

Zing. That is so unfortunate.

Jenny said... [reply]

Speaking of children's literacy, did you know that children who saw their fathers reading in their spare time read more and enjoy it more? Not mothers, fathers. Go figure.

Anonymous said... [reply]

How about books on tape to help conquer the literacy issue? Kid could have the book in written format in his hand and be following along as the whole family enjoys the story as it's read.

lilcis said... [reply]

Just yesterday I was thinking about how MUCH I read, and whether that was good or bad thing. It seems like I always have an average of five books checked out at any given time. And when I go through periods without any checked out (like when I'm taking a tough class and don't want any distractions) I get kind of depressed.

abby said... [reply]

I wonder if some of the people who don't read are people who spend their time surfing the Internet. The Internet is reading, but it's not a cozy snuggle under the blankets type of reading.

I wonder if they are thinking of doing a mommy and me literacy class of sorts so the illiterate can learn to read with their children.

The Midwest reading more doesn't surprise me. What else are you going to do in the winter? Seriously, the place has some of the best library schools: Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. There are some really great public libraries in that area too.

John Dent said... [reply]

My Father used to be the one to spend time with us as kids, reading to and with us, and making up bedtime stories for us.
I dunno....I think it's to do with dads being cooler ;) (just kidding)


Eva said... [reply]

Always glad to be able to get someone's blood boiling without harm to my person ;-)

English is my second language, and the way my mother and I got through that was that I would come home and she would ask me to teach her everything that I had learned that day. That way I got to review everything from school and she got to learn the language without having to pay for classes.

Anonymous said... [reply]

I checked out a book on CD and am playing it in the car during my 25 minute drive back and forth to work. I have never listened to a book on cd before so I'm curious to see if I like it or not. I also checked out the book in case listening isn't my thing. I joined a book group to force myself to read and now I am reading the required books, plus books I want to read. My mom took us to the library, I only saw my dad read a newspaper.


kristen said... [reply]

Most of my students hate reading; and considering that they're not very good at it I can kinda see why. Since I'm teaching an English class this year I've decided to spend the first 10 minutes of class with me just reading to them; I'm also going to implement silent reading once a week. I honestly think a lot of kids haven't been read to as a kid; nor do parents emphasize the importance of it. So sad.

My dad is an avid reader. I think there's some truth to what Jenny said. (Although a few of my siblings don't like to read).

Jimmy said... [reply]

Consider your civic duty done for the day. I'm reading...I'M READING.

JB said... [reply]

If you it makes you feel better, blue-beta recently had a similar poll. Zero blue-betans read no books in a year. One reads 1-3, one reads 4-6, three read 7-10, three read 11-20, two read 22-30, three read 31-48, two read 49-87, and three read more than 87. :D

JB said... [reply]

Also, my experience with people who read the really trashy romance novels is that they have often been really religious, too. Not sure how they do both. . . Maybe it has something to do with the Song of Solomon?

Jér said... [reply]

Maybe it has something to do with the Song of Solomon?

Maybe it has to do with the fact that they are altogether too repressed and psychologically scarred.

Th. said... [reply]


Which is why Nemesis should try out Blue Beta.

chosha said... [reply]

Minimum wage doesn't help. How do you find time to read (or do anything else that could be classed as leisure) when a ten-hour day could see you coming home with $30 if nobody tips?

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