Rare Book Monthly

Articles - November - 2010 Issue

Children's Reading Habits Surveyed: Good News or Bad?

Scholastic

The Scholastic report.


By Michael Stillman

A new study from children's and educational book publisher Scholastic Corporation concerning reading in the digital age offers some hopeful news along with a hefty dose of wishful thinking. We find that reading is not dead, nor, even, are printed books. Nonetheless, anyone expecting to change the course of history after reading this study will, we suspect, be disappointed. This train is barreling down the track, and it is hard to change the path of a runaway locomotive.

The Scholastic survey questioned 6-17-year-old children and their parents about a variety of issues related to reading. Here are some of the things they found:

By a margin of 41%-13% parents believe electronic devices have decreased the time their children spend reading for fun.

25% of children have read books on a digital device (almost 2 out of 3 on a computer versus a hand-held device).

57% of children are interested in reading books on a digital device.

33% of children 9-17 say they would read more books for fun if they had greater access to digital devices.

Only 6% of parents own an eReading device, but another 16% plan on purchasing one in the next year. 83% of these will allow or encourage their children to use it.

Nevertheless, 66% of children age 9-17 say they will always want to read books on paper.


There were also a few tangential questions asked with revealing, if perhaps not quite so hopeful, answers given:

39% of children 9-17 believe the information they find online is "always correct."

28% of children believe looking at postings on social networking sites such as Facebook count as "reading," and 25% of them believe that sending text messages back and forth between friends counts as "reading."
:(

Most of the stories published about this report focused on some of the positives: that 57% are interested in reading books on an electronic reader, that 66% will always read printed books, that eReaders are expected to grow from use by just 6% of the population to 22% in the next year. The articles also usually mentioned the conflict between electronic devices and reading, that gaming and such is taking time once devoted to reading and other pursuits. While some of this appears to be positive, I think this study needs to be taken with a grain of salt, perhaps a mountain of it. One of the claims it made is that 80% of children read books for fun at least once a week. In a pig's eye. Maybe if you take that 53% who consider reading text messages and Facebook as reading "books," along with those who read instant messages, email, and graffiti written on school bathroom walls as "books," you can get to 80%. LOL. This is a case of people telling their interviewers what they believe they are supposed to say, not what is necessarily true.

However, my belief is that the reading issue is really not so much about technology, electronic readers vs. paper books, video games and social networks vs. literature and knowledge. It has never been that easy to get children to read, and this only becomes more difficult as advancing technology makes more forms of entertainment available. Video games and Facebook are simply playing the foil to books that television once played for an earlier generation.

The real issue, in my opinion, deals with content, not form. Children will undoubtedly turn more and more to forms with which they are familiar - electronic - but the question of whether they will read books is really one of content. They will read books, generally in their personally preferred form, if they find them interesting. They won't if they don't. If a book is more interesting than a game, or at least, more interesting than playing another game after one has been completed, than it will be read. My daughter is hardly an avid reader (if one excludes text messages and Facebook), and yet she read the entire Harry Potter and Twilight series. The Scholastic report shows that the two most popular books for children 12-17 are … Harry Potter and Twilight. Kids couldn't put those books down. You would think they were video games.

Books are just going to have to be very good to reach the next generation. Writers will have to connect. If they do, young people will find them, regardless of whether they are on paper or electronic impulses.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, wallpaper sample book, circa 1919. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Archive from a late office of the Breuer & Smith architectural team, New York, 1960-70s. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> William Morris, <i>The Story of the Glittering Plain or the Land of Living Men,</i> illustrated by Walter Crane, Kelmscott Press, Hammersmith, 1894. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustave Doré, <i>La Sainte Bible selon la Vulgate,</i> Tours, 1866. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustav Klimt & Max Eisler, <i>Eine Nachlese,</i> complete set, Vienna, 1931. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>Eric Allatini & Gerda Wegener, <i>Sur Talons Rouges,</i> with original watercolor by Wegener, Paris, 1929. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>C.P. Cavafy, <i>Fourteen Poems,</i> illustrated & signed by David Hockney, London, 1966. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jean Midolle, <i>Spécimen des Écritures Modernes...</i>, Strasbourg, 1834-35. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>E.A. Seguy, <i>Floréal: Dessins & Coloris Nouveaux,</i> Paris, 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. SOLD for $131,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. SOLD for $516,500
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. SOLD for $106,250
    <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. SOLD for $16,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. SOLD for $275,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. SOLD for $118,750
  • <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> E.H. SHEPARD, Original drawing for A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner.<br>$40,000-60,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> BERNARD RATZER, Plan of the City of New York in North America, surveyed in the years 1766 & 1767. $80,000-100,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph letter signed comparing Logan, Tecumseh, and Little Turtle to the Spartans. Monticello: 15 February 1821. $14,000-18,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN C. FREMONT, Narrative of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, in the Year 1842.. Abridged edition, the only one containing the folding map From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ZANE GREY, Album containing 94 large format photographs of Grey and party at Catalina Island, Arizona, and fishing in the Pacific. From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $5,000-$8,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> WILLIAM COMBE, A History of Madeira ... illustrative of the Costumes, Manners, and Occupations of the Inhabitants. produced by Ackermann in 1821; From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ERIC TAVERNER, Salmon Fishing... One of 275 copies signed by Taverner, published in 1931,From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN WHITEHEAD, Exploration of Mount Kina Balu, North Borneo. Whitehead reached the high point of Kinabalu in 1888. Part of a major group of travel books from the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN LONG, Voyages and Travels of an Indian Interpreter and Trader, describing the Manners and Customs of the North American Indians... The first edition of 1791. $3,000-$5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> SAMUEL BECKETT, Stirrings Still. This, Beckett’s last work of fiction with original lithographs by Le Brocquy, limited to 200 copies signed by the author and the artist. From the Estate of Howard Kaminsky.. $1,500-$2,500
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>

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