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The National Literacy Trust conducted a survey of 21,000 children and teens in the UK about their reading habits.  In 2005, four out of ten children read daily.  That has fallen to three in ten. 

What I find most troubling about the survey results is that one in five children said that they rarely or never read in their own time.  17% of the children even said they would be embarrassed to be seen reading by their friends.  Scary that! 

Even genres you might think would be continuing in their popularity are falling.  Magazine reading fell by 20% since 2005 with only 57% of children reading magazines.  Even more surprising is the comic reading dropping to 50% from the 64% in 2005.

Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust, gives the following statement:

We believe we need to inspire a new generation to read in the same way that the Olympics is inspiring a new generation to take part in sport.

We need to make reading irresistible. We want to call on families and professionals working with children and young people to make ten minutes in their day for reading.

This is about carving out reading time yes, but it is also about getting the right books into the hands of children.  It’s about allowing them to read about their own interests, taking them to the library to explore those interests, and getting out of the way.  We have to let go of what books are best for them and just get them turning pages.  Quality will follow.  I promise.

The same is true of adults, who need to read what they love (even if that is children’s and teen books) so that they can model reading for the children in their lives.  If reading is good for youth, it’s just as good for us!

Photo from http://www.flickr.com/photos/slightlyeverything/