Reading: Is it on the decline?


The library is filled with people. Many students come in every morning to wait till the first bell, and some come in after school to wait to go home. However, only a few books are checked out and returned each day. Why is that?

A study done in 2019 by the Pew Research Center shows that 27 percent of adults don’t read books in their day to day life, and a study done from 1976 to 2016 shows that students in high school have gradually slowed their reading habits. 60 percent of 12th graders said that they read a book or a magazine every day, while in 2016, only 16 percent reported doing so. 

“I think it’s pretty sad in a way, (but) it doesn’t necessarily mean people are any less literate. There’s been an increase in technology, people prefer other forms of storytelling, mediums that don’t necessarily involve reading,” said english student teacher Matthew Steven Bullard.

According to the same study, internet usage increased by 64% on average. The obvious conclusion to draw is that social media is the one to blame for decreased reading time.

“I think that you could also blame that a lot more on technology — we’re always on our phones — I think people are reading more, they’re just reading different things, they’re not reading novels,” english teacher Andrea Julian said.” They’re reading smaller texts, articles maybe, they’re more visually bombarded with what people are doing rather than the written language.”

With the onset of modern technology, teens now have more and more access to the internet, a limitless source of knowledge. Many teens mainly use the internet for social media use, but even those involve a little bit of reading.

“Most of your reading comes from social media. And so a lot of the things that draw people to reading — drama, personalities, narratives — people find that on social media,” media specialist Colleen Pinyan said. “So they’re reading, they’re just not reading from a book.”

Many students have little free time between school, homework, clubs, and volunteering. The internet gives students a quick and portable way to read articles, find information or keep in contact with friends and family. Books can also be bulky and difficult to carry from place to place.

“Our job as librarians, authors and school administrators is to find easier ways for you all to get access to books on your phones.” Pinyan said 

People could also read other online resources other than physical books. Ebooks are sold online to be downloaded onto phones or eReaders, people post unpublished works online for the general masses, and scientific and newspaper articles are written and posted online on a day to day basis for informational purposes.

I think people are reading more, they’re just reading different things.”

— english teacher Andrea Julian

“As I’ve heard an author say, sometimes we can get bogged down into whether people are reading print books or ebooks or listening to audiobooks, it doesn’t matter,” Pinyan said. “As long as they’re accessing the book, it doesn’t matter which way it happens.”

People say that reading online is inferior to reading on a book, but inferior reading is better than no reading at all.

“One thing people should know, all students in Guilford County Schools now have access — because their Powerschool number is also their library card number — to this great thing called ‘NCLIVE’ and they can get ebooks from the state library on their phone,” Pinyan said.