aka YA Literature

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

End of the culture of the book?

There was a really interesting interview with author Larry McMurtry published in the Houston Chronicle yesterday. In it he talks about the end of the culture of the book:

I’m pessimistic. Mainly it’s the flow of people into my bookshop in Archer City. They’re almost always people over 40.

I don’t see kids, and I don’t see kids reading. I think little kids love to have stories read to them, but when they get to 10 or 11 or 12, they run into this tsunami of technology: iPod, iPhone, Blackberries.

They don’t resist it, and it’s normal that they wouldn’t; it’s their culture. I’m not so sure they ever come back to reading. Some will, but most won’t.

I find that quote so disturbing, but it is something I see every day teaching reading to high schoolers. My classes do a 20 minute silent reading rotation each day and they hate it! That would have been like a little piece of heaven for me when I was in high school. I have comfortable couches, a great selection of books, and yet it is still torture for them. I think McMurtry might be right, books just can't compete with the "tsunami of technology."


Sheryl said...

On the other hand, the latest NEA study shows reading on the rise. Read Ann Pratchett's great take on it: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123214794600191819.html

I see a lot of reluctant readers at school, but I also see a lot of kids who read voraciously (and not just manga!).

Holly said...

I guess I just have to remember that I am seeing a small slice of the teen population (and the ones that NEED Reading).
But at the pub library, I didn't see a whole lot of teens in there either (except for the computers).