The value of reading

As a follow-up to the post about a new type of school, here’s an article by Dan Poynter loaded chock full of statistics about books and reading. It was summarized by Mike Pope.

The part that floored me was who is reading (and who is not)

  • One-third of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives. Many do not even graduate from high school.
  • 58% of the US adult population never reads another book after high school.
  • 42% of college graduates never read another book.
  • 80% of US families did not buy or read a book last year.
  • 70% of US adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.
  • 57% of new books are not read to completion.

In 1000 Words of Advice for Design Teachers, it says to assign students reading, but not to test them on that reading so they still enjoy reading once they leave school. I don’t really agree with that philosophy because it can still be valuable to test them on comprehension of the material, which is a valuable skill. You can still enjoy reading even if you’re tested on comprehension.

I agree with testing how they gain that comprehension however. My brother recently took a test on some assigned reading for a class and got all of the answers correct except for, “Did you complete all of the reading?” Since he hadn’t read every single word in the reading, he couldn’t answer in the affirmative in good conscience. However, his comprehension was obviously sufficient enough to glean the information the professor deemed important.

Does anyone else see that as counterproductive?


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  1. I agree, it might reduce their reading skills.

    Comment by Jim on August 5, 2011 @ 2:36 pm

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