Kids these days. All they do is fiddle with their phones, form shallow connections on social media, play mind-numbing video games, and -- read books?
According to a new Pew Research Center study, young Americans are more voracious readers than other age demographics. Eighty percent of citizens ages 18-29 have read a book in the last year, compared to 71 percent of those ages 30-49, and 68 percent for those ages 50-64.
Though the study doesn’t differentiate between books assigned for school and books read for pleasure, the numbers are still surprising. Perhaps the recent spike in books written for teens plays a partial role -- much to the chagrin of those who say books for teens make our culture collectively more juvenile.
In a recent interview with The Huffington Post, teen writer Tavi Gevinson expressed her frustrations with backlash against teen books. “Nothing seems more boring to me than policing what other people are reading, and waving a YA novel in the air and being like, ‘Intellect is going to rot!’,” she said. “No. Come on. That’s really narrow.”
But the Pew study doesn’t divvy up it’s findings by genre, so it’s hard to say whether the prevalence of novels for young people is a contributing factor. The study does, however, break reading habits down by book format, highlighting that in the past year eBooks have been more popular than physical books, especially for younger demographics.
Overall, 63 percent of Americans say they’ve read a print book in the past year, compared with 69 percent the year before, and 71 percent the year before that. But, for readers over the age of 50, print books remain more popular than eBooks.
This may not be great news for print book lovers or local bookstores, but Pew asserts that its findings do shift from year to year, particularly regarding the total number of books Americans claim to have read. A write-up of the study notes, “Both the mean and median book-reading figures have fluctuated over the years, and there is no indication that the intensity of book reading over the years has permanently shifted in one direction or another.”
So if you’re looking to help tip the scales, head to a library or your local bookstore.
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