Deserted Knowledge Palace


Emilyann Meagher, Staff Writer

Bare shelves, dust molecules floating in the air, an unkempt carpet, the lingering smell of paper and ink. A place long abandoned. A place where fire breathing dragons were normal, where teenage dreams of the “big city” came true. It is a place of adventure, of horror, of mystery, of angst, of joy, of death, of love. Abandoned.

Teenagers are visiting the library less and Facebook more. In 2007, the NEA (National Endowment of the Arts) conducted an analysis called To Read or Not to Read focusing on children whose results indicate that children and young adults reading patterns were significantly less than in the past. “Less than one-third of 13-year-olds are daily readers, a 14 percent decline from 20 years earlier. Among 17-year-olds, the percentage of non-readers doubled over a 20-year period, from nineteen percent in 1984 to nine percent in 2004. On average, Americans ages 15 to 24 spend almost two hours a day watching TV, and only seven minutes of their daily leisure time on reading.”

“I’ve never really seen a reason to go to the library,” Freshman Kellen Jones said. “I haven’t checked out a book since 7th grade in middle school.”

In a study done by the NAEP only one-third of all students entering high school are proficient in reading. Every school day in America, 3,000 students drop out, the majority of them are poor readers. Students with below grade level reading skills are twice as likely to drop out of school as those who can read on or above grade level.

“I’ve never checked out a book,” sophomore Hannah Smith said.

This decline in rates is stretching from high school onto college careers. According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, only 31 percent of college graduates have high-level literacy skills.

“It’s a really depressing thought, knowing that teens have such a great source of knowledge and enjoyment at their disposal, but refuse to use it,” sophomore and volunteer at the Keller Public Library Madison Brennan said.

Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America, a study posted on the NEA website claims “literary reading” is “in dramatic decline.” The results indicate that “the three youngest groups saw the steepest drops…The rate of decline for the youngest adults, those aged 18 to 24, was 55 percent greater than that of the total adult population.”

It is becoming more important than ever for teenagers to be proficient in reading. Writing, Technology, and Teens reported that even teens with high levels in literary activities, such as reading online news sites, do not consider these activities to be “real” reading.

Students need to be pushed to have an initiative to go to the library. Schools need to be more persistent in directing students if the pattern of literacy rates continues. Students need books; not strictly to gain higher literacy skills, but also to perform better, instill imagination, and learn the power of simple words.