professornana (professornana) wrote,

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P Is for Percentages

I was interviewed last night by a reporter putting together a feature story on YA literature for NCTE's "Council Chronicle." In part this article will begin the year of celebration ALAN is planning as it moves toward its 40th birthday bash in 2013 at the Boston workshop. Forty years, and YA and ALAN still look good.

One of the questions during the interview had to do with the future of YA. I am more than optimistic about the future of literature that speaks to tweens and teens so directly. I am realistic. You see, this past week, "Publisher's Weekly" noted some new statistics: 55% of YA books are being purchased by folks who are not tweens or teens. As a matter of fact, many adults are not only buying these books for teens (their kids presumably), many of them are purchasing these books for THEMSELVES. Here is the link to the story:

Here are some other percentages to consider:

In 2005, Americans reported that they started to read books (average number was 5) but had not completed any book in the previous year.

In 2007, almost one third of American adults (27%) reported reading NO books in the previous year.

In 2011, 42% of college graduates reported not reading any books since graduating from college. Among high school graduates, the percentage was 30%. Even more disturbing was this statistic: 80% of households reported they had not purchased nor read a book in 2010.

What does this mean? I think P. David Pearson put to best many years ago when he stated that we would end up a nation where kids passed test but never learned to enjoy reading. I look to the percentage of Texas kids who passed the state mandated tests: 95% passed the reading portion of the state test in 2011 (2012 was a new test and the numbers are not reliable or valid). That seems as though we are doing a great job. However, there are many Texas teachers who know the real truth: we did a good job teaching kids not reading but how to pass the reading test. And is suspect if we adminstered a state wide assessment of attitudes toward reading, the percentage would not nealy approximate 95%.

How, then, does this testing craziness ever help us create lifelong readers and lifetime learners let alone getting them college and career ready? The answer is that the testing does not, of course, increase student appreciation for reading and books. What does, then?

Teachers who know and use real books (i.e., YA literature, children's literature) know what works. They enter their classrooms every day and share their love of books by providing books for their kids. They build reading communities; they create frenzied appreciation of books; they support books and reading. Thanks to all of those teachers who are passionate about sharing the love of real books, who are spending more and more of their money to place books on the shelves. Ditto those librarians who are also key players in this MOVEMENT (look for a M is for MOTION posting coming soon).
Tags: alan, books, reading, ya
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