War of the Words: Why Books Need Your Help in the Fight Against TV

People are Reading Less than Ever. Learn Why that Needs to Change.

Experts agree: Americans are reading less often and for less time than in previous years. Books are being shelved in greater numbers as people look for different diversions – such as literature’s noisier and costlier counterpart, TV. Surveys show that youth between the ages of 15 and 24 spend at least 2 hours of their leisure time watching TV and devote 7 minutes to reading; meanwhile, 19% of young adults do not even read on a daily basis. Grown-ups have little reason to gloat; The Associated Press’s poll on adult reading rates hit its most recent low in 2006, when 1 in 4 adults read zero books during the year, while the average adult only reads four books per year.

Though many Americans unwittingly exercise their reading skills by emailing, texting, and blogging, this doesn’t yield the same benefits that a book might. Besides, real literature doesn’t usually feature emoticons. With so little reading going on, it’s likely that you didn’t even realize there was a problem – but here are a few good reasons to care.

1. Do it for your children!

Children learn best by exposure; kids who read regularly with their parents and by themselves will greatly improve their language and reasoning skills. According to the University of Washington, DC, “when [children] see proper grammar, punctuation, and word usage in stories and other written forms, they learn without trying to learn. They don’t necessarily have to study the rules of grammar if they have seen enough examples in books they love.” Additionally, a study by John Hopkins University has shown that schoolchildren who read outside of school tend to avoid the “summer slide,” when student lose much of the knowledge and skills gained during the previous school year.

Clearly, a love of reading and a love of learning go hand in hand. The effect of reading on an adult brain isn’t quite as dramatic, though it does carry some serious benefits. Regular reading can greatly improve your vocabulary and can also lower your risk for Alzheimer’s by testing and exercising your memory.

2. Do it for your job!

Chances are, your boss wants you to be able to read. In fact, 2/3 of employers consider reading and writing skills to be “very important.” Without basic literacy skills, you’re likely to have trouble keeping

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