What happens to society — and the book world — when our youngest people are not skilled at reading?
The next generation of kids is not one of strong readers. The book industry is surely taking note of the sobering facts. The world has a big problem on its hands.
According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, an alarming 32% of fourth-graders and 24% of eighth-graders aren't reading at a basic level. Fewer than 40% are considered proficient or advanced readers. Keep in mind, our standards for passing tests have been lowered and grade inflation is rampant.
Millions of kids and teenagers will simply not be qualified to hold down the types of jobs that will be available to them as adults. And book publishers won’t be able to sell books to those who aren’t capable nor enthusiastic readers.
So, what can be done about this?
It is a huge problem. One assumes it is the usual suspects of:
· Immigrants who are suffering when English is not spoken at home.
· Kids in single-family homes who don’t get enough reading attention.
· Schools in crappy neighborhoods that lack resources to raise standards.
But there are other factors, including:
· School standards are diluted and we graduate too many underachievers because we don’t want to stress anyone out.
· Teachers are not doing their jobs — teacher quality has declined and they live for frequent vacations, snow days even when it doesn’t snow, and half-day trainings that yield nothing.
· Social media and streaming TV are winning over our kids’ minds.
· Pot shops are on every street corner and killing brain cells.
School spending is becoming inverse to results — it is a corrupt system that impoverishes the kids. You would think the more money spent, the better the result. Sadly, in NYC, 47 percent of high school grads need to take remedial university courses. In the past decade, spending per pupil had doubled to $35,000 annually. Kids are getting ripped off.
Maybe Kids today are born dumber. That would explain things. Maybe some unknown environmental factors are at play. Who knows?
So many parents — and kids — are on some type of prescribed drug. Maybe that impairs learning?
Or are we witnessing expedited evolutionary changes that are retarding the learning abilities of kids? Look, we diagnose learning and mental disorders at record rates. Everyone sees a psychotherapist, tutor, speech therapist, and/or neurodivergent specialist. This is a positive that we catch stuff early but are we failing to treat it properly? Or, is the cure worse than the diagnosis, where treatment hampers the learning process? Or, is the rising diagnosis total indicative that humans are going through a change that is causing the production of a generation of learning-impaired kids.
Participation trophy approach to schooling gets an F. We can’t take the accept me as dumb approach to life. People need to be rated, judged, held accountable — and hopefully helped. No one is done a favor by graduating high school with a meaningless diploma.
Maybe it comes down to other factors, including:
· How they teach reading — get back to phonics!
· Not enough homework — less time on You Tube and Instagram
· Rely too much in online instruction — in-person instruction trumps all.
· Bring back textbooks — schools get a D- bigly on this.
· Challenge students — lazy teachers and low state standards are awful.
· Parents need to be more involved — they are overworked but need to sacrifice more and not let Tik Tok nanny their kids.
Ok, I don’t fully know why this generation can’t read nor do I have all of the solutions. But, we know there is a problem, and it is getting worse. Society is in decline — and the book industry will pay a heavy price for it. So will our kids.
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About Brian Feinblum
Brian Feinblum should be followed on Twitter @theprexpert. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2023. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent. This award-winning blog has generated over 3.3 million pageviews. With 4,400+ posts over the past dozen years, it was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2021 and 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. It was also named by www.WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” For the past three decades, including 21 years as the head of marketing for the nation’s largest book publicity firm, and two jobs at two independent presses, Brian has worked with many first-time, self-published, authors of all genres, right along with best-selling authors and celebrities such as: Dr. Ruth, Mark Victor Hansen, Joseph Finder, Katherine Spurway, Neil Rackham, Harvey Mackay, Ken Blanchard, Stephen Covey, Warren Adler, Cindy Adams, Todd Duncan, Susan RoAne, John C. Maxwell, Jeff Foxworthy, Seth Godin, and Henry Winkler. He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America, and has spoken at ASJA, Independent Book Publishers Association Sarah Lawrence College, Nonfiction Writers Association, Cape Cod Writers Association, Willamette (Portland) Writers Association, APEX, and Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association. His letters-to-the-editor have been published in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Post, NY Daily News, Newsday, The Journal News (Westchester) and The Washington Post. He has been featured in The Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald. For more information, please consult: www.linkedin.com/in/brianfeinblum.