So it’s hardly a surprise that the development of new technologies and entertainments for children and adults is impacting the number of people reading, but I’m still really depressed by the news that half of children spend more time in the front of the computer or the TV than they do reading, according to a survey from Booktrust.
I have to admit that I’ve seen a change in my own reading patterns since I became a frequent user of the net. For example, I’ll easily spend half an hour online in bed before picking up a book to read before going to sleep.
But, while this is something I feel a little guilty about, it’s hardly a problem. Largely because I’m already literate and know that I have the ability to dive into a book whenever I feel the need to. Many children in the UK are not so lucky. And if their bookshelves are bare (one in 20 homes was found to have less than 10 books in it), it’s likely they never will be.
However, the poll did also reveal that reading remains popular and that 96 per cent of children enjoy it. No wonder. Is there anything better designed to help parents communicate educationally and inspirationally with their kids than reading them a story? I also think there’s something very comforting in the knowledge that a child can entertain themselves with nothing more than stories spun on a page and that their imaginations are developed and exercised at a young age.
I’m not against TV shows in any way, or computer games, or social media sites – I think all these things can contribute to a rich and varied childhood and that reading online is important too – but I hope that storybooks are able to hold claim to their place on shelves for years to come.