Better readers become better thinkers

Originally Published on Global Voices by Daniel Francavilla

Yes, there was the Harry Potter craze along with a couple of other popular novels recently – but in general, today’s youth seems to be putting books on the back-burner. The written word can’t compete with an X-Box 360 or an iPod Video.

Despite the lack of interest in North America, literacy is as important as ever for success all around the world. It is shocking to learn that an estimated 875 million adults are illiterate worldwide.

The youth of North America, privileged with accessible education, should be putting more of a priority on perfecting their literacy skills. The question is, how are they handling it?

Kathryn Stevenson, a librarian in Brampton Ontario, thinks that today’s teens aren’t completely out of the loop – teens read, but not what people normally consider reading material. She states that, “The internet has replaced a lot of print material that previous generations read. Of course, everyone including teens could read more,” she also assures us that, “the wealth of novels available for young adults these days is astounding.”

However, being a teacher and a librarian, she argues that teens do not read enough quality material. Including course-related material, teenagers today have vast resources available– whereas children around the world such as South Asia and India are desperate for basic literacy skills.

Living in the 21st century, being literate should be a basic human right. Stevenson believes that we need to address this problem. “It seems unbelievable that anyone in this global community is not equipped with the tools of reading and writing.”

Stevenson also worries that technology will override reading for pleasure and that reading will become task-motivated rather than interest-motivated. “As a society we need to promote reading. Better readers become better thinkers.”

In the end, today’s youth need not seek advice any further than from their favourite childhood author Dr. Suess, who wrote

“The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”