The Guardian reports that a US study by the National Endowment for the Arts study, called To Read Or Not To Read http://www.nea.gov/news/news07/TRNR.html, says reading is on the decline but says Steven Johnson it completely fails to consider the amount that we do every day on our computers.
The NEA makes a convincing case that both kids and adults are reading fewer books. “Non-required” reading – ie, picking up a book for the fun of it – is down 7% since 1992 for all adults, and 12% for 18-24 year olds.
Johnson challenges the basis of the study. He says, ‘I challenge the NEA to track the economic status of obsessive novel readers and obsessive computer programmers over the next 10 years. Which group will have more professional success in this climate? Which group is more likely to found the next Google or Facebook? Which group is more likely to go from college into a job paying $80,000 (£40,600)?…’
I’m not sure that economic success is necessarily a good measure of effective literacy skills, although I do agree with Johnson that reading from a screen is just as much about literacy as consuming novels.