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Aug 10, 2013

There's A War Against Reading!

Posted by Wendy Ewurum  |  at  2:21 PM

I am increasingly concerned by the lack of reading activities taking place with our children in our homes and communities and I started wondering how we can get them to read more. Specifically print books because I feel very strongly about the lessoning popularity of this format.
It’s funny that I have to specify that I’m talking about printed books because less than a decade if you referred to reading, everyone knew you were talking about doing so from printed books. There are so many ways of getting your reading done that printed books are sadly becoming archaic, are considered cumbersome and I think will in future join the list of critical and scarce items.

This is starkly evidenced by the unfortunate and rather frequent closure of both new and second hand books stores. Just a few blocks from my house, our closest book store is going through a closing shop sale. Not long ago, the same chain of stores closed another one at a shopping centre in the next suburb, due to lack of book clientele in the centre.

It seems to me the printed book reader is a dying breed. I am convinced there are kids out there right now that have never experienced reading a book for pleasure in printed format and probably never will.
In fact this reminds me of a poll that was recently taken to this effect amongst young readers and was reported in I’ve copied part of the poll below for your reading displeasure. The news concerning the survival of any form of a reading culture is dismal and worse is that many parents do not really seem to get the importance of preserving it as they themselves can go through an entire year without ever having picked up a book.

I was recently lambasted in an FB group for saying Television was making our kids stupid. On hindsight this was probably a complete exaggeration on my part and definite use of the wrong words but my point was, technology has taken over and kids are not better off for it.
In South Africa the majority of the population does not have access to the internet except through phones and we are not talking sophisticated types of mobiles like touch screen with wide screens for reading, etc. Just the basic phone with basic functionality including limited access to the internet as that is quite pricey. That means most kids do not have the luxury of replacing printed books with kindle apps or gadgets or owning iPads and Galaxy Notes. That being said I’m not sure if this would even make any difference as children in the more developed countries (e.g. US where these polls were taken and studies done) have access to all these gadgets but it would seem as though as much as they enjoy reading when they get to it, there are more interesting things they’d rather be doing, like watching television.

I too use reading gadgets and apps as they are so convenient but my preferred reading tool is the old fashioned book, the more texture and history it has the better. In fact my favorite book to buy is one that is new but has some sort of texture to it. Like books that have been made to look and feel old _I’m thinking of my 10th Anniversary addition of American Gods. The edges of the pages are so rough they look like they are falling out. For me nothing feels better than being the first to open a new book and run my fingers through the cover and pages or finding an old often dusty treasure and at times out of print one at a second book store.

For this reason I make it appoint to take my kids with me to book stores so that they can pick their own books and get to love the feel of them (I hope_eeeck).
In the study done by The Literary Trust it is suggested that parents put aside a mandatory 10 minutes a day in the house for pleasure reading. I like this idea of all of us sitting together, each with their own current read and being lost in different worlds whole sitting within feet of each other. I will incorporate this idea in our daily routines ASAP.

I definitely believe if we keep this up, together with regular visits to the library, the love for reading that I see budding in my kids will be nurtured and hopefully develop strong proponents for books and reading one day.
Some Of The Utterly Disappointing Facts About Books (from Buzz Feed/Books)
  1. In a 2012 survey, almost a fifth of children said they would be “embarrassed” if a friend saw them with a book
  2. and 54% of those questioned said they preferred watching TV to reading. Here’s the study from the National Literary Trust.
  3. Fifty Shades of Grey is now the best-selling book of all time in Britain. topping all the print sales of the Harry Potter series.
  4. Book and e-book sales are down 9.3% in the U.S.And the trend is pretty much the same across the globe.
  5. The last Borders bookstore closed in September 2011. Barnes and Noble, which is battling a steady sales decline, has been closing about 15 stores a year
  6.  Ebook sales have officially topped printed book sales as of 2011.
  7. Forks, Washington, now has Twilight-themed stores designed to cash in on tourists.
  8.  And the four-book Twilight series has sold over 116 million copies, almost half as many as Stephen King’s entire canon.

  9. 9. And the worst: One in four Americans said they read ZERO books in the past year. (According to this 2007 Associated Press poll.) 

I’d love to hear about what you do to encourage reading in your kids.

What’s your take on this situation about the reading culture in general? Are we making a mountain of a molehill?

About the Author

Most know me as the author to Fabulosity Reads and in actual fact, that is the previous name of this blog. I have since then moved my books to a Wordpress self-hosted blog so that I can have a place to show a different side of me which I am equally passionate about and that is marketing and personal development. I hope you will love being here, watching me grow as I share and learn. My highest hope is that we will grown and learn together in all disciplines affecting our lives. I'd LUUURRRVE to hear from you, so don't be shy...


  1. Part of the problem is that paperback and hardback books are expensive, too expensive for the lower class, which probably doesn't read much anyway, and much of the middle class can't afford to buy hardbacks. Even paperbacks have become expensive. If done fairly, ebooks can bridge the gap. But, I doubt ebooks are being done fairly (price-fixing, etc.). There's no simple answer.

  2. Hi Richard. Thanks for stopping by.
    This is teur. You know I find the pricing of those eBooks such a slippery thing. I find that for the proce of the average eBook thats not on promotion I can get a very decent print book or two.
    So I tend to not but them I'm afraid because I prefer my books on the shelf.
    I think if a parent in interested in getting their children to read they will go about finding creative ways of getting books. The aim at this point is not even to but new books but just getting ppl to read and then perhaps from their they will discover writers they love who's work they will then decide to support.
    To start things off there are ample under utilised libraries, charity books shops where I even get books at the average of $1, not forgetting bppkstore. So I think the pricing issues really should not be an issue no matter the financial situation.
    As I say, once you discover your writers you then make plans to support them. By the way when we order from Amazon for S did you know that the the price is increased by a minumin of $2 even for eBooks, so I am very picky about on whom I spend my money too. They really have to be worth every penny.

  3. You make some good points. If parents want their children to be readers, they will find ways to put books in their hands. If you have an e-reader, there are thousands of classics for free through Amazon. You can borrow e-books from the library (at least from my library). Many contemporary writers offer their books for free at one time or another. But, these are e-books. If you prefer paper, then little of this is available. You can borrow from the library, etc. There's always a way if you want something bad enough.

  4. Comments from A Link On From Facebook:

    Philip De Kock: I looked at your BLOG - very nice!! On reading I agree that reading is essential and television is a culprit. I switched off my TV service about 8 months ago and my reading soared. But don't underestimate how even basic cellular technology can facilitate more reading. A South African group has recently created an app where even the most basic phones can carry books and even learning material. Llets be honest many, if not most people have some sort of phone these days, and if for example we can get kids to use these technologies then we can make big inroads into the reading culture.

    Nathi Khoza: In this microwave generation, sitting down to read a book "just for fun" can be considered boring or even strange. Reading has always been associated with being nerdy; and having a PS3 makes you the cool-kid in the neighbourhood. So chances are it woul...See More

    Wendy Ewurum: Philip De Kock and Nathi Khoza thank you guys. I would love to get more info on that appl pls so I can share it with more ppl like myself. It takes a lot of data to use the conventional tools to download and help in this area is always appreciated. I'm just a mom with a loud mouth about things I'm passionate about so I always welcome help to bring me and my types up to speed. Nathi Khoza I know that I'm biased towards books as a preference coz I indulge the things I love on that blog and I try by best to help promote writers and their books and i find it sacrilegious that print books seem to becoming obsolete being replaced by other forms hence my frequent going ons about them. But I agree with everything your said about getting reading done from everywhere.

  5. Thanks for writing in such an encouraging post. I had a glimpse of it and couldn’t stop reading till I finished. I have already bookmarked you.

  6. I'm a primary school librarian. I'm also in charge of technology at my school. I'm going to set aside technology next year and focus on reading. Books, books, books. An ocean of stories. Readalouds every visit. That's my plan.

  7. Awesome Debs. That is wonderful and thanks for the visit.

  8. These are sobering facts. We as a culture can decide to celebrate brains and promote books, but we aren't for some reason. It's sad.

  9. Theresa, our culture seems to be getting rid of the good and inculcate the bad. That is the sadness of it all


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