Back in the early '90s I owned a bookstore and often heard parents bemoan the
lack of good books for young boys. Had Mr. Earley's books been in print at
the time, I would have been hand-selling them like hotcakes to adults and teens,
both boys and girls. Now, almost two decades later, I'm going to be sure
my grandchildren read Mr Earley's books.
Teenage Boys and Reading: Did you know?
In 2005, The Washington Post published an article titled "Why Johnny Won't Read" that explored a worrisome trend:
"From 1992 to 2002, the gender gap in reading by young adults widened considerably. In overall book reading, young women slipped from 63 percent to 59 percent, while young men plummeted from 55 percent to 43 percent."
The figures quoted come from a survey conducted by the National Endowment for
the Arts, "Reading
at Risk: a Survey of Literary reading in America".
The study further states:
"At the middle school level, the kind of quality literature that might appeal to boys has been replaced by Young Adult Literature that is easy-to-read, short novels about teenagers and problems such as drug addiction, teenage pregnancy, alcoholism, domestic violence, divorced parents and bullying."
Does it matter that so many of our young men are not reading? Many people think it does including BoysRead, an organization of parents, educators, librarians, mentors, authors and booksellers whose mission it is to transform boys into lifelong readers, who quote the following figures:
Increasing the rate of male literacy is not the full solution, but it is
certainly part of the solution.
While on the subject, many feel that overall adult literacy is in need of a significant boost if the USA is to remain viable in the industrialized world. In 2002, 44% of adults claimed not to have read any sort of book in the past year and well over half had not read any literature - a significant downward trend of 4-7% points versus a decade earlier.
This article was originally published in April 2008, and has been updated for the
August 2009 paperback release.
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