News

U.S. children read, but not well, or often

U.S. children read, but not well, or often

BOOKWORMS:The report found that the percentage of nine-year-old children reading for pleasure once or more per week had dropped from 81 percent in 1984 to 76 percent in 2013, based on government studies. There were even larger decreases among older children. Photo: Reuters

By Andrew M. Seaman

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Although American children still spend part of their days reading, they are spending less time doing it for pleasure than decades ago, with significant gaps in proficiency, according to a report released on Monday.

The San Francisco-based nonprofit Common Sense Media, which focuses on the effects of media and technology on children, published the report, which brings together information from several national studies and databases.

“It raises an alarm,” said Vicky Rideout, the lead author of the report. “We’re witnessing a really large drop in reading among teenagers and the pace of that drop is getting faster and faster.”

The report found that the percentage of nine-year-old children reading for pleasure once or more per week had dropped from 81 percent in 1984 to 76 percent in 2013, based on government studies. There were even larger decreases among older children.

A large portion rarely read for pleasure. About a third of 13-year-olds and almost half of 17-year-olds reported in one study that they read for pleasure less than twice a year.

Of those who read or are read to, children tend to spend on average between 30 minutes and an hour daily with that activity, the report found. Older children and teenagers tend to read for pleasure for an equally long time each day.

Rideout cautioned that there may be difference in how people encounter text and the included studies may not take into account stories read online or on social media.

The report also found that many young children are struggling with literacy. Only about one-third of fourth grade students are “proficient” in reading and another one-third scored below “basic” reading skills.

Despite the large percentage of children with below-basic reading skills, reading scores among young children have improved since the 1970s, according to one test that measures reading ability.

The reading scores among 17-year-olds, however, remained relatively unchanged since the 1970s.

About 46 percent of white children are considered “proficient” in reading, compared with 18 percent of black children and 20 percent of Hispanic kids.

Those gaps remained relatively unchanged over the past 20 years, according to the report.

“To go 20 years with no progress in that area is shameful,” Rideout said.

The report highlights some behaviors that have been tied to children being more frequent readers. Those behaviors include parents setting aside time to read with their children and parents reading themselves to model good behavior.

(Reporting by Andrew M. Seaman; Editing by Michele Gershberg and Dan Grebler)

Latest Headlines

in Sports, Weird

WATCH: Miami Marlins play dirty

15-overlay18

After the Washington Nationals started playing soft rock during opponent's batting practices, the Marlins decided to pay them back with some trolling in the form of fart noises.

in Viral Videos

WATCH: Man rolls under train in heart-stopping video

22-overlay17

Witnesses couldn't believe their eyes when they saw a man purposely rolling under a moving train.

in Music

Courtney Love wants Kurt Cobain’s death records sealed

Kurt Cobain

Kurt Cobain's widow and daughter are petitioning a Seattle judge to keep gruesome death-scene photos and police records relating to the Nirvana frontman's 1994 death sealed.

in Sports

Urban Meyer, ‘trademarked’ coach

urbanmeyer

Ohio State University is taking steps to ensure the name of football coach Urban Meyer doesn't show up on knock-off apparel.

in Sports, World

Beijing awarded 2022 Winter Olympics

19-overlay18

Beijing has become the first city to be awarded both summer and winter Games.