J A Browne

The Sad Story of Reading

The Sad Story of Reading

And why it’s time to write a happier ending

It’s your fault.

Wait, what?

It’s your fault that children don’t enjoy reading anymore.

No, it’s not. Shut up. (*Throws book*) And my child loves reading… The children in our school come in and read every morning… We always read a class novel…

But if rates in reading for pleasure are continuing to decline, then something’s happen. This isn’t a blame game. But it’s a game where the rules have to change. Let me explain.

You see, each year The National Literacy Trust survey tens of thousands of children and young people (C&YP) about reading. Sadly, less than 50% of the C&YP (aged between 8-18) when asked, replied that they don’t enjoy reading.

But that’s just one survey.

Well, no. It’s an annual survey and if you look at global data from other sources, the stats are backed up.

And, C&YP’s enjoyment of reading had hit a 15 year low by the start of 2020 and the decline has continued for years.

What is causing the decline in reading?

Many factors. And it’s time we really started changing the drivers because the horses are charging the wrong way.

These are some (but not all) of the factors that could (and most likely, I believe) be causing the decline in children’s reading… Here’s my handy little diagram.

Over the coming days, weeks and months, I’m going to exploring each of these areas that I believe have had and continue to have an impact on children’s reading. I’ll offer up my own solutions for how I think, together, we can tackle this problem.

Because it is a problem.

Er, excuse me? Potter? Harry Potter? Are you kidding? Those books got kids reading again! Who do you think you are?

I’m not kidding. And I will explain exactly my train of thought on this in a later post. What the Harry Potter series achieved is utterly incredible. It got hundreds of millions reading. I’m an author, too. All authors want our stories to be read, loved, treasured.

But the decline is happening. That cannot be argued with. And the Potter phenomenon will, I believe, help explain why the decline is continuing. Trust me. I love Potter, too. And, I’m Gryffindor, if you want to know. Love Hermione.

My little brainstorm above raises lots of questions and emotions, too. But my hope is, especially as an author who writes largely for an audience of 8-18 year olds, that by diving into the factors that are damaging our children’s relationship with books and stories, we can change the outcomes. Because there are consequences…

And now, more than ever, I feel, we need stories, new chapters and happy endings.

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