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NEA Extends Doom & Gloom to Teen Readers, Too

The Boston Globe reports on preliminary results of a report on children’s reading by the National Endowment for the Arts, due to be released in the fall, and the results look about as good as they did for the 2002 report on adults’ reading. “Reading scores and rates seem to be going up in the age 7-11 range,” NEA Chairman Dana Gioia said in an interview. “But when kids hit high school, all the social pressure takes them away from reading and you see an enormous fall, to a point where most kids are almost not reading at all. A quarter of all kids read for pleasure. Most of the others don’t. Because kids read less, they read less well. Because they read less well, they have lower levels of academic achievement. God bless Harry Potter, and please send us many more. But one book or series of books is not strong enough to counterbalance the trends.”

Others concur, like the Horn Books editor Roger Sutton and Kenyon College graduate Margaret Willison. “They are not necessarily reading other books,” Willison, a youth literacy coach, said of some of her students. “The [Harry Potter] books are so big that they think if they just read those books — and maybe not even the book, just see the movie — their reading is done. When this book goes away, they might not have this fervor for a book again.”

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