A disturbing study released today shows that teenagers in Scotland are reading well below their age level and that the difficulty of the books they read actually drops as they get older.
Many 16 year old Scottish pupils, according to the What Kids Are Reading report are actually reading at a 13 year old level.
I don’t pretend to know the reasons for this (too much technology? not enough reading in school timetables? lack of literary support from teachers/parents?) but it’s obviously a calamity for the human race.
It’s depressing to think that the next generation will be deficient in their literary education.
At the risk of sounding smug, I was a voracious reader in my teens. And it not only helped with all aspects of my schoolwork, it was also a great comfort, solace and source of creative inspiration.
Here’s what I read (and loved!) as a teenager:
- Animal Farm by George Orwell
- The entire Narnia series by CS Lewis
- Old Possum’s Book of Cats by TS Eliot
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
- The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
- The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
And here’s a few I tried, and failed, to read as a teenager:
- Moby Dick by Herman Melville
- Dracula by Bram Stoker
- To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
- Any Russian literature
My list of failures is just as important as my list of successes. I may not have understood them, or enjoyed them, but I tried.
If you have a teenager in your house please encourage them to read, and read outside of their comfort zone.
Harry Potter’s fun, but it’s not enough to turn teens into well-rounded, educated and creative adults.