Children, adults left behind

Tiffany Swinney

In a time when people rely so heavily on facts and data gained from the Internet, they may be losing the benefits of simply reading for fun.

According to an article published in The New York Times in 2007, a decrease in the number of people who read for pleasure correlates with a lowering of test scores not only in reading but in other subject areas, such as math and science.

It was also found that on the whole, employers are less satisfied with the writing abilities of employees who do not read for pleasure on a regular basis.

In the study, performed by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), test grades of kindergarten through college-aged students were analyzed. The drop-off of reading test scores began in high school and continued into college. The study served as a follow-up to study results released in 2004 which came to similar conclusions.

In response to the 2004 study, the NEA launched a program called “The Big Read.” A statement released by the NEA says “The Big Read” was initiated in order to “restore reading to the center of American culture.”

“It [The Big Read] aims to address this crisis squarely and effectively,” said the NEA statement. “It provides citizens with the opportunity to read and discuss a single book within their communities.”

Steve Anderson, director of the library for both the Burlingame and Iola branches of Allen Community College, agrees with the results of the recent studies. He certainly believes students are not reading purely for enjoyment as frequently as they once did and that a lack of reading among students will lead to a loss of proficiency in other areas of education.

“I’d stake anything on that,” said Anderson. “The more you read, the better at it you get. The more you read, the better writer you become.”

Daniel Nosker, a Washburn University freshman, supports Anderson’s statement. Nosker believes it is important to find time for reading outside of what is required for school.

“You’re reading something that you want to read, and it’s something that you’re not forced to read so it expands your reading, your vocabulary and your mind,” said Nosker.

Sophomore Julie Fairchild agrees.

“Last night I made time to read,” said Fairchild. “I needed to get away from the books and the finals stuff. Normally I only get probably Saturday nights, once a week. To be able to read what I want to read relaxes me.”

Anderson remains strong in his conviction to encourage reading among Kansans.

“We want to do everything we can to further reading in the area and generate interest in reading,” said Anderson.