There's been the drone of contstant chatter and natter in the press, on TV and radio, on readers' and writers' forums, no doubt in pubs and parlours around the world and certainly in the blogasphere of late lamenting the passing of teenage literacy and sustained reading interest.
Some links to follow, but I came across this today at a massive 50,000-member forum for ebook reading folks:
More and more young people will lose literacy as encounters with any sort of long-form text disappear in an onslaught of video and aural bombardment and interaction. Critical thinking is a skill developed through learning to take a longer view and time to consider multiple aspects. Slicing everything into bite sized pieces doesn't lay the ground work for that training.
Yesterday morning, I'd have readily agreed with that. Last night changed my mind completely.
My sixteen-year-old schoolgirl granddaughter, Robyn, is over in France with Skovia and me for a wee holiday with her mum and dad and other grandma and granddad. Uncle Alex (who some of you know from BeWrite Books) arrives tomorrow.
I reckoned Robyn was pretty much representative of her age group, judging by her fun FaceBook posts and text messages in some kind of odd teen-jargon that I can hardly understand: All phonetic spelling, obscure abbreviations, no capitals, no punctuation.
After my epiphany, I certainly hope she is representative.
Last night, she suddenly became still and hushed on a lounger on the terrace. She was reading a YA paperback. After two or three hours, she toddled off to bed and I took a look at the book. It runs to around 400 pages, is intelligently written ... and a bookmark showed she was well into it.
She'd been utterly absorbed in her novel and its world, while three handy computers lay idle.
Maybe I misunderstood all along and was too qiuck to judge.
Here, on the other hand, is what some prophets of doom have been saying over the weekend:
The Independent, UK
The popular An American Editor blog
MobileRead forum thread, International
There's no shortage of gloomy articles on the net forecasting the death of teenage reading. None impress me as much as wee Robyn's simple and quiet evidence to the contrary.
Happy reading and writing, people. Thanks for your company. Neil