Reading declines as school, technology, take precedence


By Mattias Apse, Staff–

Junior Hannah Huang used to read all the time. She remembers nights spent with a flashlight under the cover, weekly trips to the Yolo County Library and class time dedicated to reading.

“Now all my reading is for class,” Huang said.

Huang isn’t the only one who reads less. In fact, many other students are part of a global decline in reading that has been going on for a while.

According to a report published in 2007 by the National Endowment for the Arts, the percentage of 17-year-olds who didn’t read for pleasure doubled between 1984 and 2004, while the percentage who read for school showed no significant change.

Huang attributes this trend to an increased use of electronic entertainment. In addition, Huang noted that school workload increases as students are older. She also believes that there is a “culture around books as negative.”

Junior Jeffrey Keller is another student that is part of this trend. Although a firm lover of books as well as a writer, Keller feels that he doesn’t have enough time to read. He attributed it to “lots of activities and homework and lots of things I need to do.”

Bruce Michle, a long-time employee at Avid Reader Davis, said there hasn’t been a noticeable decline in book sales for the local bookstore, but said that it may be an anomaly.

“Our share of total book sales in Davis may have changed over time, and Borders a few years ago created competition, which could’ve masked any decline in sales for us,” Michle said.

Scott Love, a regional manager at Yolo County Library’s Mary L. Stephens Davis Branch, also does not see local trends pointing toward a decline in reading.

“You can see how busy we are,” Love said.

Love, however, did note that the functions of Yolo County Library diverge from traditional libraries; it is not just a place for books, but also a meeting place and e-book provider.

Even so, many DHS students confirm that they read less.

“The last book I read for fun was during the summer,” senior Lucy Shauman said.

Shauman is an editor for Davis High’s Spoke magazine. Like Keller, Shauman finds that school work and activities occupy time that would otherwise be dedicated to curling up with a good book.

“It helps keeps reading fun if you are not only reading for school,” Shauman said.

In order to do this, Shauman recommends setting aside time at night or on the weekends “to get into a book you love.”

Junior Chelsea Ji is among those subject to the trend.

“School has been much more rigorous – I just don’t have any time to sit down and read,” Ji said.

The last time Ji read was happenstance. She found “The Book Thief” while cleaning her room.

“Basically I just read books spontaneously– I never plan out a time,” Ji said.

Ji also attributed the trend to technology, noting that “we’re able to do so many more things, making us busier.”

In contrast with other students, sophomore Kyle Henricson has found himself reading more than he used to.

“Back in elementary school I read a ton, then less in junior high, and more in high school,” Henricson said.

However, he does read less for pleasure.

“There’s so much reading at school,” Henricson said.

Although technology has intruded on students’ reading, Huang remains optimistic about the potential of technology to encourage reading.

“I read online, because for [unpublished]  fiction, there’s anything. Published fiction is more restricted,” Huang said.

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