Is the fun gone from reading?

First aired on Airplay (13/9/11)


A new report on education by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development could have the literary culture of Canada shaking in its boots. According to the report, 37% of students in developed countries read without any pleasure at all. They read for work, for information, anything but for the joy of the act itself.

Why is this? Why are students so adverse to reading? Cultural critic Jeet Heer sees a distinct, but unfortunate, connection: reading is such a fundamental part of our day-to-day lives, that it's difficult for many to see the "fun" in it. "Reading is an unnatural activity, you have to learn it, and you learn it from many years at school," he explained to Airplay host Dave White. This association continues into adulthood, especially now that many jobs require reading, even when it's as simple as e-mail. Because of this, Heer explains, "reading gets associated with drudgery."

This association disappoints Heer, because he believes that "reading is really a magical act." He sees reading as a form of telepathy, when the thoughts of one person can be transferred to another through the writing of words. "It's the only art form that allows us to have that communication one-on-one between the words that someone thinks in their head and allows them to enter into your head," he said.

How do we get students to see the fun in reading? Share your suggestions in the comments below!

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