A new study finds a third of adolescents haven’t cracked open a book or read a Kindle in the past year.
University of Houston College of Education clinical professor Margaret Hale said a lot has to do with teens not being able to choose what they want to read.
“Instead they’re reading things that are assigned, which often aren’t books. They’re reading passages and answering questions to prepare for a test,” said Hale.
She said younger children like to read until about the third or fourth grade, when it wanes because of what is being done in the classroom to meet the demands of the high stakes testing environment.
“We keep preparing our kids for tests instead of engaging them in authentic reading,” said Hale.
She said kids need to have a choice in what they read and find things that are interesting and relevant to them.
Hale added if adults did a better job of engaging teens in authentic reading and reading for pleasures, test scores would go up because young people get better at ready by reading.
Hale puts on Tweens Read Festival every year.
Houston Public Library’s Deputy Assistant Director of Neighborhood Libraries Laurie Covington said young people spend a lot of time online learning about what interests them and what's going on around them. They might be reading more graphic novels and anime than traditional books, to which the library provides access to online.
“But, they don’t connect it reading and they don’t maybe connect it with books, even if they are actually reading books.”
But, even with easy access to reading material, teens aren't calling what they're doing "reading”.
Covington said books are a luxury item and aren’t going away.
“If they don’t have the money to buy a book, they can come to the library and get it from us,” said Covington.
Covington said they get a lot of foot traffic. Every year, there's about 60,000 teens involved in their after school programs.