rebelling against low expectations

Wall Street Journal: Boys Who Read


Boys Who Read by Thomas Spence

Throughout history more lives have been changed through books than by any other means. Books are important. Reading is important. Charles Spurgeon, the prince of preachers, wrote: “The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains, proves that he has no brains of his own.”

If that’s true then our generation is largely brainless. We don’t read — and that’s especially true of boys. The following article, published in The Wall Street Journal, charts a forward course that could save our generation, or at least help us raise the next generation of leaders/readers. Take a look, and then get off the computer.

by Thomas Spence • Wall Street Journal

When I was a young boy, America’s elite schools and universities were almost entirely reserved for males. That seems incredible now, in an era when headlines suggest that boys are largely unfit for the classroom. In particular, they can’t read.

According to a recent report from the Center on Education Policy, for example, substantially more boys than girls score below the proficiency level on the annual National Assessment of Educational Progress reading test. This disparity goes back to 1992, and in some states the percentage of boys proficient in reading is now more than ten points below that of girls. The male-female reading gap is found in every socio-economic and ethnic category, including the children of white, college-educated parents.

The good news is that influential people have noticed this problem. The bad news is that many of them have perfectly awful ideas for solving it.

Everyone agrees that if boys don’t read well, it’s because they don’t read enough. But why don’t they read? A considerable number of teachers and librarians believe that boys are simply bored by the “stuffy” literature they encounter in school. According to a revealing Associated Press story in July these experts insist that we must “meet them where they are”—that is, pander to boys’ untutored tastes.

“Everyone agrees that if boys don’t read well,
it’s because they don’t read enough.
But why don’t they read?”

For elementary- and middle-school boys, that means “books that exploit [their] love of bodily functions and gross-out humor.” AP reported that one school librarian treats her pupils to “grossology” parties. “Just get ’em reading,” she counsels cheerily. “Worry about what they’re reading later.”

There certainly is no shortage of publishers ready to meet boys where they are. Scholastic has profitably catered to the gross-out market for years with its “Goosebumps” and “Captain Underpants” series. Its latest bestsellers are the “Butt Books,” a series that began with “The Day My Butt Went Psycho.”

The more venerable houses are just as willing to aim low. Penguin, which once used the slogan, “the library of every educated person,” has its own “Gross Out” line for boys, including such new classics as “Sir Fartsalot Hunts the Booger.”

Workman Publishing made its name telling women “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” How many of them expected they’d be buying “Oh, Yuck! The Encyclopedia of Everything Nasty” a few years later from the same publisher? Even a self-published author like Raymond Bean—nom de plume of the fourth-grade teacher who wrote “SweetFarts”—can make it big in this genre. His flatulence-themed opus hit no. 3 in children’s humor on Amazon. The sequel debuts this fall.

Education was once understood as training for freedom. Not merely the transmission of information, education entailed the formation of manners and taste. Aristotle thought we should be raised “so as both to delight in and to be pained by the things that we ought; this is the right education.”

Aristotle thought we should be raised
“so as both to delight in and to be pained by
the things that we ought; this is the right education.”

“Plato before him,” writes C. S. Lewis, “had said the same. The little human animal will not at first have the right responses. It must be trained to feel pleasure, liking, disgust, and hatred at those things which really are pleasant, likeable, disgusting, and hateful.”

This kind of training goes against the grain, and who has time for that? How much easier to meet children where they are.

One obvious problem with the SweetFarts philosophy of education is that it is more suited to producing a generation of barbarians and morons than to raising the sort of men who make good husbands, fathers and professionals. If you keep meeting a boy where he is, he doesn’t go very far.

The other problem is that pandering doesn’t address the real reason boys won’t read. My own experience with six sons is that even the squirmiest boy does not require lurid or vulgar material to sustain his interest in a book.

So why won’t boys read? The AP story drops a clue when it describes the efforts of one frustrated couple with their 13-year-old unlettered son: “They’ve tried bribing him with new video games.” Good grief.

The appearance of the boy-girl literacy gap happens to coincide with the proliferation of video games and other electronic forms of entertainment over the last decade or two. Boys spend far more time “plugged in” than girls do. Could the reading gap have more to do with competition for boys’ attention than with their supposed inability to focus on anything other than outhouse humor?

Dr. Robert Weis, a psychology professor at Denison University, confirmed this suspicion in a randomized controlled trial of the effect of video games on academic ability. Boys with video games at home, he found, spend more time playing them than reading, and their academic performance suffers substantially. Hard to believe, isn’t it, but Science has spoken.

The secret to raising boys who read, I submit, is pretty simple—keep electronic media, especially video games and recreational Internet, under control (that is to say, almost completely absent). Then fill your shelves with good books.

People who think that a book—even R.L. Stine’s grossest masterpiece—can compete with the powerful stimulation of an electronic screen are kidding themselves. But on the level playing field of a quiet den or bedroom, a good book like “Treasure Island” will hold a boy’s attention quite as well as “Zombie Butts from Uranus.” Who knows—a boy deprived of electronic stimulation might even become desperate enough to read Jane Austen.

On the level playing field of a quiet den or bedroom,
a good book like “Treasure Island” will hold
a boy’s attention quite as well as
“Zombie Butts from Uranus.”

Most importantly, a boy raised on great literature is more likely to grow up to think, to speak, and to write like a civilized man. Whom would you prefer to have shaped the boyhood imagination of your daughter’s husband—Raymond Bean or Robert Louis Stevenson?

I offer a final piece of evidence that is perhaps unanswerable: There is no literacy gap between home-schooled boys and girls. How many of these families, do you suppose, have thrown grossology parties?

We were especially struck by the quote from C.S. Lewis. We must train ourselves to feel pleasure, liking, disgust, and hatred at those things which really are pleasant, likeable, disgusting, and hateful. We must constantly ask ourselves whether the things we put before our eyes train us in this way, or just further distort our ability to appreciate good, true, and beautiful.

For now, join the conversation by answering any or all of the following questions:

  • Why do you think boys (and girls) are reading less these days?
  • Have you seen technology (e.g. video games, Internet, etc.) replace reading in your own life? Do you think that’s a bad thing?
  • Have you ever purposefully limited your technology intake to focus on other things? What happened when you did so?

+ Join the Conversation +

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About the author

Alex and Brett Harris

are the co-founders of and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.


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  • wow great article. I think american youth as a whole are reading less and less and when they do read it is fad novels (twilight) and stuff like this article described. they are reading GARBAGE! We need to get back to reading the good, classic stuff. Stuff that makes you think. Stuff with morals. Stuff that encourages greatness out of youth, not pulls towards mediocrity.

  • That was a really interesting article! I really like that Spurgeon quote. As someone who loves to read with her whole heart, it saddens me when I see people, boys especially, who don’t enjoy getting lost in the wonderful world of books.

    “Why do you think boys (and girls) are reading less these days?” Because technology is taking the place of books. Just look at Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes and Noble’s Nook. They are trying to re-invent the wheel, in my opinion. Our culture always wants to sell the “new thing.” “Books are old, dusty, and hard to read, after all,” the culture says. Whatever. A brand-new, metal Kindle, TV, or computer can’t compare with the wonderful smell of dusty, old books. I can’t think of anything I’d rather do than reading Jane Austen curled up in front of the fireplace, with a mug of chai tea. Also, what the author of that article had to say about boys wanting to prove something to each other really made me think. I think he’s right, too.

    “Have you seen technology (e.g. video games, Internet, etc.) replace reading in your own life? Do you think that’s a bad thing?” My family has never had video games, and computer games are fairly rare here. Reading has always been a first choice for my sisters and me. I don’t think I would ever want to give up reading for video games or spending all my time on the computer. (Haha, as I sit here typing this. :)) I don’t think video games or the Internet or television are bad things. Yes, there are terrible things about the Internet and TV, but there are also really great, God-honoring movies and websites (look at the Rebelution, for instance :)). The problem comes when those things take first priority in someone’s life.

    God bless y’all!

    In Christ, Jessica

  • When I decide to take a break from computer/electronics, I end up feeling so much more productive in my day; and, yes, I usually end up reading more! I feel that video games and other such forms of entertainment do have a part in replacing reading. After all, after sitting for hours playing an intense, action-packed video game, who wants to sit and read Charles Dickens or some other classic literature?

    Also, because they aren’t expected to read “stuffy literature,” teens (when they do read) will choose the books with little content. Reading material has been “dumbed down” for teens since no one expects them to read anything challenging.

  • “Why do you think boys (and girls) are reading less these days?”
    Well, for the reasons described in the article, but also because people are more likely to diagnose their child with ADD or ADHD or Dyslexia, etc earlier in life. This automatically makes the parents and consequently the child feel that they have a ‘reason’ to not read. That is not at all true! I am not saying that reading disorders do not exist – they do, and several of my friends have them. However, there is a difference between letting it stop you and working through it.

    Have you seen technology (e.g. video games, Internet, etc.) replace reading in your own life? Do you think that’s a bad thing?
    I haven’t seein it replace reading, as I am an avid reader. However, I have seen it replace other things. For example, good old fashioned games of monopoly with friends is now replaced by the latest movie with friends. Now, that’s not necessarily bad, as movies tend to lead to discussions about the plot, which can lead deeper. It’s just something to be careful about.

    Have you ever purposefully limited your technology intake to focus on other things? What happened when you did so?
    Yes. I did a 40 day fast this past November from things like Netflix and Hulu, which really helped me get through my first semester of college finals. Also, my new year’s resolution is to go a week without Facebook once a month. I just completed my first week and it was really good for me. On the other hand, I’ve occasionally also had to limit my intake of books, because they can also be distracting if you’re reading the kind that isn’t intellectually stimulating.

    I’m certainly going to share this article with some of my friends and see what they think, thanks for posting it!

  • » Have you seen technology (e.g. video games, Internet, etc.) replace reading in your own life? Do you think that’s a bad thing? My Family does have video games and my brothers love to play them. They would rather play a video game then read. We really have to set limits to how much they get to play. Reading…well they would rather not! It’s hard to get them to read, but when they do they really love it. Video games can be bad, if not used with care. We have also seen that my brother aren’t as nice when they play them. They tend to be mean and fight with one another if they play to long. Video games can be fun, but be careful with your time or else you will end up sitting on them all day! The TV is my problem! I could just sit and watch it all day, but I would waist soooo much time if I did. I love reading. Reading is more fun, but you also have to be careful with it. There is tons of books out there, but a lot of them aren’t good. Only read things that will put healthy things into your mind. Think on things that God would be pleased with. I have volunteered at our library for several years, so I get to shelve books. You would be suprised to see what people check out and read! Half of it’s just a waist of time to read, the other part is gross and just plain weird! Yuck! Then there is also those really good books that people read and I smile because I know that someone spent the time to read a good book.

  • These are very apt observations. I agree with Thomas Spence that there tends to be a marked literacy gap between boys and girls, but I must argue that from my experience this IS STILL PRESENT in the homeschool community. In my own circle of acquaintances, most of the young men do not read for enjoyment and cannot readily offer an articulate commentary on the things they read. The problem with this unfortunate divide is that it causes boys to perceive girls as possessing superior intelligence (when the fact is really that they perhaps study more or read more books) and thus leave leadership in their hands. I have seen this play out in practical scenarios over and over. The best leaders I have met among young men are the ones who have confidence, but not pride, in their intelligence. Young women are not drawn to young men who disown their intellect and unabashedly admit to spending most (or all) of their free time on social networking and video games (these two tend to be cited most often among the people I know). Instead, we seek out guys who use their minds constantly, expand their minds diligently, and share their minds judiciously.

    In response to the three questions …

    1) First of all, because we’re on the Internet. Second, because modern education, devoid of divergent thinking, does not use literature nearly as much as it should.

    2) Yes, I have seen technology replace literature in my own life, and I am doing everything possible to reverse that effect. Technology itself is not the problem, it’s how we use it. When we find ourselves bored unless we’re being entertained, there’s an issue. Reading takes hard work and it’s a lot easier to sit in front of a screen where all you have to do is browse. When you’re online, there’s no waiting to find the information you’re looking for … you don’t have to wait for an author to build his background and lay the pieces in place. You just google the search terms.

    3) Yes. I went one day without using a computer (something I had not done in a long time) and discovered that I never had time in the first place for all the Internet browsing I was doing.

    Thank you for this excellent post … I appreciate it!

    — Noelle Garnier

  • That was very thought provoking. I found it very amusing and believable that last thing about lack of a literacy gap in girl and boy homeschoolers. That really drove the point home.
    1. First and foremost, absolutely because of internet and technology. That right there is the key reason we don’t read as much. Also, I do agree that modern education has some part of this too. I can say that my public grammar school english education has been SERIOUSLY lacking.
    2. Technology has certainly replaced reading in my life. Recently a book in a series I had been waiting for came out and I realized how little I have read since school started back up. This is a very sad thing as I used to carry around a book everywhere I went. I used to always have my nose in a book and now that is no longer true. So yes, this is a bad thing.
    3. I have limited my technology intake for periods of time. It always has good results but then I fall back into the technology trap again. On the other hand, when I was younger, I used to have books taken away from me when I didn’t do my chores and such 🙂 Funny how things change. In any case, limiting technology intake in my life has always had positive effects, though eliminating it completely is never possible with school which always allows for distractions. The best thing to do is strike a balance.

  • Interesting…all the commenters up to this point have been girls…are the boys not reading? 🙂

    Good article. I’m surprised this is coming from a secular publication, but I haven’t found anything I don’t agree with yet.

    It’s funny how timely this article is. I am a soundtrack aficionado, obsessing at times over the musical scores for films. Starting yesterday, I loaned out most of my whole collection to one of my friends and am taking a month-long fast from scores. This will, in the long run, free up LOTS of time I before would waste. However, I’m also trying to read ten of the longest books I own this year and have read hundreds of pages if history and theology within the last 2.5 weeks that I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to.

    @Jessica T.: You said, in answer to the question of Why boys and girls read less these days, “Because technology is taking the place of books.” Then you mentioned the Kindle and the Nook. If I may say so, I’m not sure that’s entirely accurate only because those devices are simply another form of the book. But it’s still text. I think social networking has certainly been part of the problem: Facebook, for example, with its endless tank of stuff to do, sucks so much time doing a lot of nothing. Discipline is also an issue. In an attempt to “manage their kids,” parents fail to instill in them a proper sense of discipline and self-government–with the result that their kids waste time on…Facebook and video games. Or truly stupid books.

  • I did find it interesting that girls are commenting more on this post than guys.

    I have to agree with that article. Thanks for sharing it. I have seen the truth of it in my home, although we do not do video games as the internet, computers, and itouchs have become more available to my brothers they have started to read less and read way less than I or my older brother did when we were there ages. It is a sad thing. As young people in this generation we need to fight against it.

    @Jessica T. Although nothing really replaces the feel of paper and a real book, the Kindle and Nook or IBook on Ipads and Ipods are still books and can make it easier to have access to books. Our family has been able to get sets of books for those devices that we would not otherwise have gotten and all of us can read them at once. I do believe you should sit down with a paper book every now and then, but actually reading is the more important thing.

    @Emily Scheerer: I agree with what you said about people using ADD, ADHD or Dyslexia as an excuse but my family is a living example that they should not be an excuse. I am Dyslexia as are some of my siblings but we all read and some of us do a fair amount of it.

  • Humm, for the first question, I take a slightly different stand.
    Yes most guys will read the newer grosser books, perhaps for the just the reason that they are new. Then they find that those books don’t require much thought so they go back for seconds, thirds, and so on to fill themselves (like eating candy). Same for girls (yes I’m guilty of this). However, what would happen if a new book was put in front of them that had substance to it?
    There is plenty of new girl-lit that had some substance (DragonSpell series, Christian fantasy aimed at girls), but I have yet to see any written for guys.

    So maybe a part of the problem is just that, a dearth of (new) good books for guys. Personally, I didn’t get started reading by digging right into the old classic tomes. I started by reading newer, but substantial, books. Now mind you, I also started reading when I was only 4, so you don’t have that much substance. But the delineation is still there.

    Also, there’s a dearth of good, substantial books in general. Most kids that I know would, rightly, believe that if they stumble across a substantial but fun book, that it is merely a happy coincidence. I’ve scoured my local library system for the past two summers trying to find any decent books, and the only ones I’ve found are in the adult section (Lord of the Rings, for instance). This goes for online book sites as well (even Christian sites).

    Anywho, this is not to negate the effect that electronics have on reading, because I agree that they can detract from concentration, and one needs concentration to read a substantial book.

    The most prominent times that I cut electronics from my life, is when the power goes out or I step away from the computer for entire afternoons so that I can focus on my school work with out the distraction of I.M. or internet surfing. It’s rather nice when I do that, because then I find that I retain a lot more of what I read, and I enjoy my reading much more. 😀

    So that’s my two cents.

  • Thank you! I”m a college age writer and I’m very choosy about what my 13 year old brother reads. I try to find him books but libraries are filled with junk for boys. I clean our library and I’ve found very little I would let him read without me reading it first.
    If you are at a loss of where to start, Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe, Men of Iron and The Lord of the Rings are a good place to start. If you have a very reluctant reader, The Hardy Boys is also an option.
    Happy reading!

  • @Kyle and @Emma: Yeah, you’re both very right. I didn’t think that through very well at all. Kyle is right–it wasn’t accurate and it was also unfair, both to people who have Kindles, etc. and to Amazon, etc. I’m sorry.

    God bless!
    In Christ, Jessica

  • “Good article. I’m surprised this is coming from a secular publication, but I haven’t found anything I don’t agree with yet.”

    The author of the post is Christian, so even if it is from a secular publication, that will undoubtably colour the tone and content of the work.

  • @Jessica: No problem! Kindles, Nooks, and other ebook readers are a blessing in their own way. While I personally would take a physical book any day over an ebook, like Emma said, there truly are books that would be either impossible or very costly to obtain physical copies of. Or you simply want to be able to read on-the-go easier. I have a friend who has a small ereader and she’s able to read so much with it.

    @Heidi: May I offer some suggestions for good male reading? I obviously don’t know your brother’s interests at all, so some of my suggestions may be way off target.

    Jeff Shaara. Any of his Civil War or Revolutionary War books. I first read him when I was 14. Accurate writer of historical fiction. No inappropriate content whatsoever that I recall. (One of his books was turned into the film “Gods and Generals” which is highly commendable.) He tries to portray Lee and Jackson’s “religiosity” accurately, and as a result, the book features almost no language (with the exception of “mild language” here and there, and one instance of the s— word). Of course, you or your family would have to review his works yourselves. His language stays sensitive to the time. Therefore, his books on WWI and WWII will have more–and rougher–language than his novels on the Civil War or the Revolutionary War.

    R.M. Ballantyne. 19th Century outspoken reformed Christian author. Highly recommended. His characters are manly, heroic, chivalric, and Christians. His stories take place all over the globe–from the middle of the Pacific to Canada to London to South America.

    G.A. Henty. 19th Century Christian author. His Anglican Christianity is not as outspoken as Ballantyne’s, but his characters are also manly, heroic, and chivalric. His stories are historical fiction and take place all across the time span of history (up to about 1900, when he died). Novels deal with the Reign of Terror, the Civil War, and many more. Heroes fight with Lee, with Hannibal, they are captured by Egyptians and Romans, and they usually get the girl at the end.

    Douglas Bond. Modern author who writes historical fiction, mostly about church history and persecution.

    Hope this helps!

  • Wow, that is one convicting article. Our generation needs to see this. Our boys need to realize that there are certain things that can keep them from ever becoming men. I do agree that electronics and video games have a lot to do with this problem (I am actually competing in forensics this year with a Persuasive on why we should read more). I have found that it is harder to find time to read books outside of my Bible when school occupies most of my day. And while, even then, I still probably read exponentially more than most my age I cannot use that as an excuse for not reading as much as I used to. Sometimes it is just so refreshing to sit down in a quiet room with a book, knowing that you can potentially read for hours without being interrupted.

    Thank you for posting this, I am going to have my Mom read it when she has a chance. 🙂

  • My boys and my girl read all the time. Screen time is limited to from 7:00 pm to bedtime and they are homeschooled so they have plenty of time to read and to be kids.

  • Why do you think boys (and girls) are reading less these days?
    it’s an interest thing. I think we have become more visual people so just words on a page don’t cut it. video games are visual, therefore more interesting.
    Have you seen technology (e.g. video games, Internet, etc.) replace reading in your own life? Do you think that’s a bad thing?
    Technology has replaced reading in my life. I love reading too, I just don’t have any good books to read (any recommendations would be awesome, btw) And it is a bad thing for me, I don’t get the brain stimulation that I used to.
    Have you ever purposefully limited your technology intake to focus on other things? What happened when you did so?
    I haven’t really limited my technology use, but I think it would be a good idea for me.
    Thanks for posting this! I’m encoraged to read more now!

  • “Have you seen technology (e.g. video games, Internet, etc.) replace reading in your own life? Do you think that’s a bad thing? Have you ever purposefully limited your technology intake to focus on other things? What happened when you did so?”

    I am guilty of allowing technology to take over my life while throwing books into the garbage(figuratively speaking). My entire life has always been revolved around my Gameboy which turned into a DS which turned into a PS2 etc. I wanted these things because all of my friends from High School had them so in turn I asked my parents to get them for me. My family and I were naive of how video games would affect our reading habits along with our skills. I am not saying that it is anyone in particular’s fault but rather that I wanted to have fun, and, to me, reading was quite the opposite of fun.

    Now I am in college. I read “Do Hard Things” during the summer of 2010 and it changed my life (along with a friend who has challenged my faith and understanding of what I believe). Since I have been in college I deactivated my Facebook and have read so much more than have ever have in my life. I no longer have any video games and the only piece of technology is my laptop. Instead of playing video games, I watch sermons and read blogs (like this one) to challenge my heart, soul, and mind. This blog, along with the book, has changed my life to live, think, and breathe radically for Christ crucified. Glory to God!

  • I grew up really enjoying reading. One of my favorite things to do was to take a good (non-school) book and just read. Over the past 2 or so years internet has very much replaced reading physical books. I got to the point that the only books I read (with only a few exceptions) were my college textbooks. This year I’m actually making a concerted effort to read more…I put together a list of around 12 books I wanted to read. I’ve already done 2 this year, The Pursuit of God by AW Tozer (great read) and A Christian Manifesto by Francis Schaeffer. It’s been good to get back to reading, but I think the key is to set a goal of reading, and make it a priority. It doesn’t just happen on its own.

    As far as limiting intake of internet, my friend Nathan Hamilton over at challenged his readership to go on a social media fast for the month of February. I’m doing that…not getting on Facebook or Twitter (for non-work reasons) this month. It’s to early to say what will happen with it, but it does seem to make things a little less noisy.

  • When I was growing up we lived off the grid in the mountains of northern CA so, even though we liked watching selected movies and TV shows, we weren’t able to. Books were always made available though and I loved stories; getting myself to read them was a bit difficult till I was about ten and then I devoured books left and right. The habit of reading was formed and my parents guided me to choose the classics, which, to this day, I still highly prefer over anything else I read. My younger siblings likewise love stories but they do not read books nearly as much as I do because they have grown up with more technology in their lives. Computer and video games, movies, the Internet, all provide entertainment for them, even if that entertainment is Mom-approved and fairly educational.

    Technology is both a tool and a distraction which used be used wisely. Selection of books should be treated with care as there is an awful lot of garbage out there; parents and older siblings with refined taste should be consulted when it comes to picking out books to fill one’s head with.

  • * Why do you think boys (and girls) are reading less these days?
    I think boys and girls are reading less these days because it’s an effort! Laziness is such a huge weakness, especially of teenagers, and it’s far easier to sit mindlessly in front of a screen than to exercise your brain in reading a book.
    * Have you seen technology (e.g. video games, Internet, etc.) replace reading in your own life? Do you think that’s a bad thing?
    Yes, I have seen technology replace reading in my own life to be honest, although not in a bad way. I am on the internet more often because I go to an online school, so naturally that form of technology takes up a lot of my time. And while that hasn’t affected my reading of God’s word, it has decreased the amount of time that I spend reading leisure books, a saddening thought at best.
    * Have you ever purposefully limited your technology intake to focus on other things? What happened when you did so?
    Yes, I have purposefully limited my technology intake to focus on other things in a sort of “Facebook fast” that I’ve been taking part in for a while now. It started with a week of being away and replacing the time that I would’ve spent on Facebook with a personal Bible study; it has now escalated to a two-month period of time spent away to spend more time with God. This decision wasn’t easy, but has vastly deepened my relationship with God, and I would push anybody and everybody who spends time on Facebook to do the same thing. It has meant more than I can say.

    Hard questions, but excellent ones to take the time to think on…

  • Why do you think boys (and girls) are reading less these days?
    In my opinion, people in general do not read as much as they used to because before, education was viewed as the gateway to success. Your best chance at succeeding was through education. Now we take education for granted. Education, especially college education, is still the “way to succeed.” We know that college is what is expected. but with the expectations for kids to actually work their way to and through college is no there. Teens expect their parents to pay now, as they think that it is their parents job to provide for them. Reading is a large part of education. But they do not read because it is not their strength, and they are not interested enough to read. If you want someone to read, you need them to be interested in reading. The easiest way is to make sure that they start reading early, like as soon as they know their letters. Challenge them early and they will do hard things.

  • I wonder if maybe they had it right a couple centuries ago when boys grew up studying in schools that weren’t particularly concerned with what they were interested in. They read some of the greatest writers ever, did rigorous exercises in Latin and Greek. Much of this type of learning does not occur even in college these days, but it produced some men that we learn from centuries later.

  • I think the majority of the reason why girls and boys are not reading has do with the stereotype placed upon books as being boring. In that, instead of going in search of good books they just take other peoples word and believe that reading is an extremely boring, drawn out process that is a waste of time. Sad but true.

  • I think boys and girls dont read as much because of all the other technology stuff and we have so much more to do now then we ever did…sometimes books can come across boring.

  • In response to: “Have you ever purposefully limited your technology intake to focus on other things? What happened when you did so?”

    In the summer of 2009 I spent so much time working on my online business that I neglected reading my Bible, except for a chapter of Proverbs a day, and so my spiritual life suffered.

    And then I got to the point where I couldn’t take it anymore — I couldn’t stand feeling so far away from God and losing spiritual battles in my life — and so I forced myself to read the Bible for an hour every day before going on my computer.

    Reading at least an hour every day has become a daily discipline ever since, and, boy, has it been wonderful!

    “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” -1st Timothy 4:8 NIV

  • I think that books are important because they help grow your mind. Alex, and Brett… nice job on this post! I am going to get back to the books! By the way A & B are you both home-schooled or not?


  • Here are my opinions about the questions listed above:

    1) I have found that many times our peers look down on us for reading. For some reason, to them, reading is “uncool” or “nerdy”. I have experienced this personally. Many of my classmates (including myself at times) have just skipped over the reading assignments for our English class. The really sad part is that we have actually been known to kind of praise each other for it. So, I think that a big role in this situation is peer pressure.

    2) I have definitely seen technology taking up way to much time in my life. Many times, when I am about sit down and read a book, I get distracted by something on Facebook or Youtube. I think, “Oh, this looks much more interesting or funny. The book can wait. There’s always tomorrow…” As a result, I end up not reading at all.

    3) When I limit my time with technology, I get so much more accomplished! And I have also noticed that when I’m not on the computer all the time, I actually feel better.

  • I play video games very rarely, but I’ll admit that reading is something I don’t engage in as often as I probably should. It would be easy to blame current authors for publishing “irrelevant” literature and try to make teenage guys look innocent here, but I simply can’t make that argument in good conscience. As you pointed out, it really just comes down to the fact that boys find it easier to play video games, surf the web, and read Captain Underpants than to do something productive.

    On a different note, to those of you who might think you read more than enough in your free time, ask yourselves this question: “Am I doing the equivalent of eating junk-food by reading the books I’m currently involved in?” Too many times we think we’re on the right track just because we have a book in our hand, while failing to realize that fantasy novels are hardly beneficial to our morality or spirituality. True, just as a bag of potato chips does have its proper place in a person’s life, recreational reading is not wrong in or of itself; but when such books make up the whole of one’s literary appetite, it might be a good time to go on a diet.

  • – Why do you think boys (and girls) are reading less these days?
    I think this problem considers a lot of countries and solving it depends on appropriate children’ upbringing. I was lucky, because I have parents who love reading an learned me and my brothers and sister that reading is very important in life. They was taking care what we read and helping us in choosing right books. I think that these problem is now very popular especially among children from elementary school. They find a lot of another things to do, because they don’t know a lot about worth of good books.

    – Have you seen technology (e.g. video games, Internet, etc.) replace reading in your own life? Do you think that’s a bad thing?
    I use Internet when it’s necessary and I read books when I have free time. But, unfortunately, I spend more time learning than reading books and very often I can’t find time for reading, because I’m not very organised in my every day duties.

    – Have you ever purposefully limited your technology intake to focus on other things? What happened when you did so?
    I must control time, which I spend on my computer. In this year I’ll have important exams and every minute should be used on learning… When I limited different technologies in my life, I have more time for improving my english, so now I’m very sorry if you find any mistakes or something was incomprehensible – I’m still learning 🙂

  • For our son reading has been difficult for him. He is an auditory learner and dyslexic as well. But he enjoys listening to books. In our culture with phones, ipods, computers and technology, it seems that kids spend a great deal of time reading texts or emails. It is sad that kids spend little time
    just enjoying a book. But,I am thankful that our son over has heard many more books than I ever did.
    Praise the Lord!

  • I found this article interesting because someday I hope to publish wholesome books for children and young adults. I’m a shelver at my library, and it can be depressing to see how much of fiction for young people is dumbed-down, gross, and offensive. It takes different forms for each age group. The easy books are full of bathroom jokes, etc. Middle-grade fiction has recently been flooded with zombies(!), and the teen section is full of “gossip girl”, vampire romance, gay fiction, and dark fantasy. It’s sad. It’s hard to track down good books, even if you are looking for them. They say “you are what you eat,” and that’s even more true about books. You are what you read. The publishing world (in general) doesn’t seem to care that the books they’re churning out are negatively affecting culture. They just want to sell books.

  • Wow, wow, wow. Remarkable article! I definitely agree: young people are reading less because there are WAY too many distractions. I myself have seen the computer take over somewhat in my own life- even for things that are there for my personal enhancement. When it is limited, I don’t think it is that bad at all. Technology can be a remarkable blessing. But, when I start to spend hours a day posting on my blog, emailing friends, and watching YouTube videos, and perhaps only spend one hour in a book, I know I’ve gone too far. Sometimes, I have had to limit my technology intake simply for the sake of reading a book. While I may fall behind somewhat on email or other internet-related things, I have found that I feel much more fulfilled. I also feel more informed and intellectually-oriented, even in my vocabulary. For instance, after spending four hours on the computer IMing and emailing, I find that every other word I use is “awesome,” “totally,” or “like.” (i.e. I like totally had a great day today- it was awesome.) After spending four hours in Dickens, though, my words are more thoughtful and my sentences more structured. (i.e. Today was a lovely day, and I feel I accomplished much). 🙂

    Thank you for posting: it was very inspiring!
    Have you ever purposefully limited your technology intake to focus on other things? What happened when you did so?

  • “Why do you think boys (and girls) are reading less these days?” For boys, low expectations and them (meaning boys) having the attitude of “its not cool”. By low expectations, I mean, not expecting boys to want to read and then trying to bribe them to get them to. That is sad. For girls, maybe they do read (e.g. magazines) but, not the material you want them to.

    “Have you seen technology (e.g. video games, Internet, etc.) replace reading in your own life? Do you think that’s a bad thing?” I don’t think so…I personally do not like fiction books but, I do like Christian Living books and, of course, the Bible. When media (e.g. video games, t.v., computer, etc.) becomes number one in your life, then yes it becomes a bad thing.

    “Have you ever purposefully limited your technology intake to focus on other things? What happened when you did so?” Yes, I have. I could focus better/longer attention span. My eyes felt better and more relaxed than strained and tired. Also, I felt I learned more than I would if I “read” on the computer.

  • “Why do you think boys (and girls) are reading less these days?”

    Technology, I think, has a lot to do with the problem. I mean how many boys today would rather be playing video games instead of reading? I think that the problem start way back when the radio was invented. The radio (then the t v) was the nightly gathering place of the average American family instead of the fireplace where you would have family discussions or just contented silence. Technology has slowly drawn us away from some of our good habits such as reading books that challenge us, helping around the house, or even hanging out with our siblings and building relationships in that area.
    As for the school librarian’s statement…It is way wrong. The things that those kids are reading are starting shape who they will be when they grow up. If parents, teachers, librarians, and publishers continue to stoop down to such a mediocre level of reading (and writing for that matter) in a couple hundred years “Captain Underpants” might be considered a classic!
    But take a look around in teen reading section at Barnes & Nobles and Walmart they are selling vampire stories with a grade 5 reading level…maybe even lower! No siree not for me! Give me the Bible or some good old classics with sentences half a mile long! No weird vampire or alien stories for me!

    Sister In Christ,
    Taylor Ballard

  • Your words resonate in my heart of so many things that are affecting everyone today; especially boys and young men. Last summer I was fortunate to hear Jim Trelease, who wrote “The Reading Aloud Handbook” speak to a packed national convention filled with Usborne Books & More Reps. We were captivated as he shared statistics about kids, reading, and how we all can make a difference in kids lives by what we do today to help them enjoy reading.

    He shared facts from studies of what has been found to inspire the joy of reading in kids through young adults. Have you ever read his book? It is an amazing collection of ideas to of how to get kids to read, why they lose their desire to read outside of school, along with simple ideas that have huge impacts on creating the passion for reading. Jim lit a fire under us to look for more ways to partner with parents, teachers, librarians and others in our local communities to increase the desire and ability of kids to read! If you are interested in finding an Usborne Rep who can do a workshop for you to share lots of ideas on helping to get your reluctant reader become an avid reader, you can go to Usborne’s national website of which has a link to find a rep near you.

    My favorite ah-hah moment from Jim Trelease is that kids need to read in every class in school. In essence, reading well is one of the keys to unlocking their minds, don’t you agree? 🙂 I need to check out the book several of you mentioned “Do Hard Things”. Thanks for the tip on a book from one book lover to another.

    In His Care,
    Deb Casey 1 Peter 5:7

  • Thanks for posting this =)

    Reading has changed my life. I started out with “junk”, and then grew to enjoy books of higher quality. In a way I think we need to read the empty stuff before we can read the full. Using the analogy of a baby starting out with milk, then real food, is how I view growing readers.

    Take the Bible, for example.

    Everyone–boy or girl, man or woman, should read the Bible. But it’s not altogether an easy book! That’s why we start out with little kid Bibles when we’re young and that’s why Jesus talked in parables–so that we’d understand.

    I think it’s very important for us to read good books that spur us on in our walks with God, yet we should also encourage people that it’s “okay” to start little in order to achieve big.

  • Great article! I absolutely agree with it. We need to be reading books that will encourage us and show us ways that we can better ourselves. I absolutely love to read, but I was homeschooled plus my mom regulated my video game time. It eventually got to the point that she had to regulate my reading time because I would always be reading a book.

    » Why do you think boys (and girls) are reading less these days?

    I would have to agree with what the article said. There is so much in this world that is struggling to occupy our time, such as video games and the internet. We really have to choose to do things that are productive and will not be a complete waste of time. “Whether you eat, whether you drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the Glory of God.”

    » Have you seen technology (e.g. video games, Internet, etc.) replace reading in your own life? Do you think that’s a bad thing?

    Yes, and yes. Sadly I’ve read all of the books I own. I want to buy some more, but I’m saving for a car, plus I’m short on free time with school and work. But luckily my xbox broke, so I’m not playing it as often as usual.

    » Have you ever purposefully limited your technology intake to focus on other things? What happened when you did so?

    Yes, When I was young my mom limited me and my brother to an hour on a video game. After we realized that the rule was there to stay, I replaced every waking moment that was used playing video games with reading. Also I’ve fasted video games just because I am sick of them wasting so much of my time. I find myself helping out around the house and doing more important things when I choose not to play any games.

    Emanio Flamma Domino,
    Justin Finley

  • I found it most interesting that he said, “If you keep meeting a boy where he is, he doesn’t go very far.” It made me think about how this is true not only of boys but of girls also, and -essentially- teens everywhere—it sounds a lot like low expectations and what those do.

    I was deeply intrigued by this article, because one of my sisters-in-law spoke about the subject of children and reading on Christmas day.

    She said she did not see why parents happily say, like it is a good thing, “Oh, my kid reads a lot!” She stated that reading is extremely anti-social (that you have to be anti-social while doing it; it is not socially inclusive. If this is confusing, it is because I am working with a woeful lack of information about what she meant; she was not able to fully articulate, express, expand, and explain her meaning. In fact, the conversation did not last long on that particular point, but quickly moved on to…something else about reading—I cannot recall the rest now). She did express that she did not understand why people feel it is a good thing to read a lot (particularly addressed about children and overall younger people reading a lot, but I suppose she meant anyone, really).

    She said she does not mind reading, or that other people read and read a lot, but that she does not understand why people think it is a good thing. While she would not dissuade her boys from reading (I think), I am not sure, however, that she would encourage them to pick up more books and shut off Halo more often as they get old enough to read. This seems incredibly sad, to me.

    Reading a book, an actual book, has always been more beneficial, refreshing, and restorative than music (and that says a lot for me) or, even, reading on the computer. Having a book in hand puts me in touch with my deeper self, a well-spring of quiet balance awaiting being tapped into. Having a book in hand reconnects me with a time that seems to be becoming out of mind—simpler times that hold a better sense of self, of mind, of heart, spirit, and soul. At least, this has been my experience. I have never been more in tune with my quiet balance than when I have taken the time to do something that is itself becoming like a lost art, when I have taken the time to reconnect myself with something that may be becoming old-fashioned—having an actual book of substance and material in hand, reading it. That kind of quietening and settling yet engaging of our minds I have found to be unparalleled; I have found no equal for it elsewhere.

    There are wonders that a book, a quiet nook (most preferably outside or before the fire), and a cup of tea or hot cocoa, or curled up in your favourite chair enthralled and engaged—there are wonders that these can do for you. Well, at least, I know this statement to be true if I exchange ‘you’ for ‘me.’

    My younger brother just got through reading ‘How Should We Then Live?’ by Francis Schaeffer and ‘I Kissed Dating Goodbye’ by Joshua Harris (like we did not all know that, I know); and I know sometime soon (if he has not already) he is going to start reading ‘Boy Meets Girl’ by -can you guess?- Joshua Harris. My mom assigned ‘How Should We Then Live?’ for school, and my parents bought the other two for him for Christmas—he asked one of our older brothers for ‘I Kissed Dating Goodbye’ and so my parents bought him both. However, this is the kind of reading we encourage in our household; thus is it any wonder these kinds of books (and others) are read?

    My little brother likes Mandie books, for crying out loud, even though the main character is a girl—but it is Christian mystery and the stories are enjoyable and wholesome. He gobbled up Hank the Cowdog as fast as he could gets his hands on them, and he worked his way through a book about the history of baseball (for a merit for his Royal Rangers group, but he did not balk at the idea). These are only a few. However, as I said before, this is the kind of reading we encourage in our household.

    Quite frankly, I am appalled by the concepts of and the books themselves that they are writing for young boys (if these titles are truly representative of their content). I think it is absurd. My younger brother has never been inclined towards books of that sort, which leads me to feel that it is a matter of what you truly encourage young boys to read. Also since he has never been inclined to read books of that sort, yet he reads books nonetheless, it leads me to feel that there are other books out there that will engage a young boy’s mind that is not full of juvenile and gross humour (which, judging by the humour of some adults around me that I could think of, is also apparently adult humour, too—or is that a by-product of the kidult syndrome? What is labelled ‘adult humour’ is reminiscent of my younger days, wherein such jokes made by children were called ‘juvenile’ and was frowned upon as being childish (by the very same ‘adult’ people who now make similar jokes and call it ‘adult humour’)—wait, hold up, now when we “grow up and become adults” those very same types of jokes are now called ‘adult humour’ (while we still frown on younger children for being childish when they make those jokes)? Yes, this makes no sense whatsoever.).

    I promise that now I am moving right along.

    Question #1: I honestly do feel it has a lot to do with technology, trends, and distracting (usually unGodly) relationships (who would rather read when they can hang with their boyfriend/girlfriend and do who-cares-to-know-what? There are other relationships, though, too, that can detract from the things we should be lavishing our focus upon—I am just listing the one that comes to mind as the most prominent)—but mainly and prominently technology. I have seen all three distract people around me and I have watched their minds, their hearts, and their spiritual walk suffer for it—suffer from too much focus on technology (video games and such), trends (let’s all check out the latest and focus on conforming to the hottest next-big-thing), and distracting (usually unGodly) relationships (from all manner of friends to dating relationships, these can be very harmful).

    Question #2: (a&b) Whenever reading has been replaced in my life, it has not been good. As I mentioned above, there are profound benefits that I get from reading a book. I have never been more at peace and growing, in mind, heart, and spiritual walk, than when I have taken the time to sit, quiet myself and all else, and read and engage and stretch my mind. Yes, reading getting replaced in my life by (usually) technology or something else of pall standing has been and still is a bad thing. It does still occur, but I do recognise it as being unbeneficial and I strive to rectify it—sometimes more quickly and more efficiently than other times.

    Question #3: (a) Yes, I have. (b) I finished a year’s worth of Etymology in two (two and half?) weeks, a year’s worth of English in about a solid month’s work. That is just one example of one such occurrence. There have been other times of limitation and the various things I have gotten done instead.

    Alright, now that I have gone and thoroughly bored your eyes out of your skull, I will end this comment. I probably got off-topic a time or two, but I hope that possibly, somewhere, in all of the running of my fingers, there is something beneficial to the discussion.

    in Love,

  • This article has the ring of truth. Our two sons have benefitted from strict limits on videogaming. They are teens today and voluntarily obey the limits set years ago. We also read good books ( real literature) aloud to them from earliest years. Today both of them read more daily than they play. They have extensive vocabularies and a wide view of the world.

  • » Why do you think boys (and girls) are reading less these days?

    I think it’s because there are so many options out there, options which so easily shorten our attention span and desire to read and think, because it’s easier to enter the world of web-browsing or computer games than read the works of Robert Louis Stevenson. I’m sure I’ve been guilty of this!

    » Have you seen technology (e.g. video games, Internet, etc.) replace reading in your own life? Do you think that’s a bad thing?

    I used to spend a lot of time on the Internet with my blog, which meant I didn’t spend time on other things, sewing and reading in particular. Although I wish I spent more time reading and sewing in my afternoons and a bit less time online, I also learnt about HTML and developed a real interest in graphic design and computers, so I don’t think it’s all bad.

    » Have you ever purposefully limited your technology intake to focus on other things? What happened when you did so?

    When I decided I didn’t want to spend as much time online I restricted my online time to twice a week, refreshed my desire for reading and found some other projects I wanted to do, to fill in the time I might have spent on the computer. (The last chapters of your book, Do Hard Things, was really helpful in this way!) Once I changed the way I spent my afternoons I found myself improving in the things I was doing – and loving it!

    Although the internet is a blessing and I think it is important to understand today’s technology, I think it needs to be balanced with different productive activities and we need to be careful not to let technology stop us from thinking through things that we will grow from. Who and what do I want to shape my mind, imagination and character?

    Thank you for sharing!

  • Hmmm… well I totally agree with this post, I don’t know what to say.

    I’m a 15-year-old girl whose favourite places consist of the music room and the library. I counted all the books in my room about 2 years ago and the total was over 100 then… imagine it now. I just bought The Phantom of the Opera, and I’ve fallen in love with the writing of Karen Kingsbury. Reading is, to me, like breathing. I’ve given up so much sleep in order to finish a book.

    And I’m fully aware that I’m different from a lot of people my age. So many of my peers marvel at the fact that I have an 80 in math or science…. and that’s when I’m slacking. Because I read, I’m smarter, I have a larger vocabulary (consisting of words like “pulchritudinous”), my marks are higher and my forms of recreation consist of reading, playing flute/piano, and YOUTH!

    I wish more of my peers would read… especially guys my age. Most of them are so annoying… a few of them are smart, but the majority of them are all too easily amused by making fun of people or body humour. Technology is a major issue… my family owns a very old Nintendo that only has 2 games, so it gets used maybe once a year (if that!) and computer games never really took up much time as our computer was in the basement and it was a pain to go downstairs 😛 Reading was just easier.

    Now, though, we have our computer upstairs, and I’m finding that I’m on it too much instead of reading. I really do think that my generation’s laziness towards reading come from not being challenged or encouraged to read anything stimulating. That being said, when you actually limit yourself from technology, you read so much!

  • @ Dakota L: I agree with your question about reading junk-food. I look back at quite a few of the books I’ve read in my free time and say “What’s the point?” I don’t know if you meant that all fantasy is bad. However, I would like to respectfully submit that not all Fantasy is equivalent to junk-food. Sometimes I find fantasy a good way to listen to what God wants me to hear, even Jesus used made-up stories to get his points across. However, if said fantasy degrades the things that are Godly, or if it praises that which is against God’s word, then I would submit that it is worth less than junk-food (think poison).

  • Why do you think boys (and girls) are reading less these days?
    Have you seen technology (e.g. video games, Internet, etc.) replace reading in your own life? Do you think that’s a bad thing?
    Have you ever purposefully limited your technology intake to focus on other things? What happened when you did so?

    Where I live (not in America), the people in our youth group (which now is taking a long break due to not enough people) all either do online school or are home-schooled. All of us are pretty serious about school and all are most likely going to college, no one would say that they weren’t going to go to college.

    I sometimes am a read-o-holic, which is also not a good thing as I could waste lots of time reading (even good books) instead of doing my school. My mom even said that when I was not caught up with school I couldn’t read (last semester I was bad and brought books into the restroom to read), so sometimes I get addicted to reading.

    I generally am on the computer all day long because I have online school. I am extremely procrastinating in basically everything I do, I daydream or go on non-school sites instead of doing my work. This online school is rather sub-standard and not very stimulating, personally, I would rather do English and History off the computer with text books and interesting books. Before this school year I was home-schooled for all of my life except for a few online classes.

    I think that parents play a bigger role than they might even realize. If my mom had had time the past two years to make sure that I was doing my school work, I think that I would be more disciplined to stick to my work. I’m not stupid, I just lack determination, since my mom has a break from teaching for a few weeks, I think that I will ask her to sit next to me and make sure that I am doing my work.

    My brother likes to read, and he reads a lot, Redwall especially. 🙂 He does, however, play on the computer and often does not get off when he is told to (he does online school as well). I do not think that doing school entirely online is a good idea, even if you are extremely focused. Taking one or two classes online is not really a problem. Online school is bad for your health and bad for your eyes.

    Now, I even like housework instead of sitting in front of the computer all day. I like feeling that I’ve really accomplished something after a day’s work (too often though I don’t accomplish enough).

    Now I must get back to work,

  • Other than being time poor, I think the main reason Christian young adults don’t read is because there’s so little worth reading in print. Finding decent e-books is also really hit and miss – until you’ve found an author you enjoy anyway.

    I’m saying this from the perspective of a home school mother who happens to have written books for her young adults. I first started writing when my book-devouring daughter complained there was nothing worth reading. She added that even most of the Christian books we owned were wishy washy and uninspiring(!)

    Okay – so maybe our family’s definition of worth reading is a little different to other families.

    I pinned her down and discovered she wanted adventure books set in Australia. My son joined in the conversation. It emerged they weren’t interested in shallow characters who were worried about making a baseball team; or finding a hot date for a graduation dinner.

    They wanted adventure books where they could escape for a while. They wanted believable characters – a little like people we’d met over the years. Themes they could identify with – like horsemanship, outback living, survival skills and aviation. Heroes and heroines they could relate to – Christian young adults with rebelutionary outlooks; heroes who weren’t afraid to talk about Creation and abstinence.

    Stories set in the here and now. With snippets of wisdom for the future.In some of the books I wrote for my young adults I tossed in some sex education as well. Why? To balance out the “education” that leaps out from the telly screen and out of the mouths of the people they work alongside.

    The good thing about writing your own books is you don’t have to please publishers. So I wrote from my heart and I didn’t worry about being too hard hitting or being politically correct. One of my books even ended up with E/M weather modification and Mayan 2012 predictions in it!

    I doubt any of the books I wrote for my family will ever be published in print format. When you live in Australia the chances of being published by a Christian publisher are about on par with a snowflake surviving a bushfire. Maybe I’ll revise some of them and turn them into e-books one day. When life is a little less taxing.

    The thing is, because we’ve home-schooled, I’ve raised my children on a diet of “Whatsoever things are good, lovely, pure, of good report… then THINK on THESE things…” And as young adults they still prefer these types of books and videos.

    As one of my sons points out, there are plenty of Christian books for those who want to read fantasy, love stories and historical novels. But hardly any fiction books where the characters are normal everyday people with a world view similar to his…

    I don’t think publishers realize there’s an untapped market out there. Readers who wish they could just find a never-ending stream of wholesome fiction stories. Readers who want to escape into books that are set in our present time. Readers who want realistic heroes they can look up to and emulate. Readers who want fiction with story-lines that go deeper than “to date or not to date this hot guy/chick”…

    I hold this opinion as a former manager of a Christian bookshop. As a home school mother. But most importantly as a mother who first started writing when her kids started saying, “Mum, I wish there was a Christian book about…”

  • @ Brittany: Hey! im also 15 this year and Karen Kingsbury is a great author:)

    Nowadays teens just like rubbish books like Twilight and all those witchcraft fantasy books.It’s really bad,especially when I see people my age not interested in good books and great music:( So far the only fantasy books I read are The Chronicles of Narnia.

  • My hobby is to collect old books; I am 4 books off having the whole collection (104) of Biggles books written by W.E Johns and I love to collect antique school boy stories; they are far more well written than new day ones and I find it sad to think that if I placed one of them in the hands of a 12 year they probably would find them boring and not understand them. The quality of writing is amazing! That is not to say that books these days are not well written I just feel they are watered down. Reading always enspires me to write more as well. Unfortuntaly since getting my own computer I find I read far less and spend more time online.

    @Valerie I also do not like Twilight, I can’t confess to having read them so maybe I have no right to say that, but I don’t like vampires so I’m steering clear of them. 😉

  • Why do you think boys (and girls) are reading less these days? Well as a 16 year old who goes to school i know that the stories can be extremely boring. The students want a love story or an action story not a story we have to do critical reading on. We want to be entertained and because the stories are not very entertaining we choose not to read them. So students instead of reading look like they but use their phone the entire time and end up failing the test because they weren’t paying attention.

    Have you seen technology (e.g. video games, Internet, etc.) replace reading in your own life? Do you think that’s a bad thing? I have mixed feelings about this… I play video games a lot and i enjoy them and i play competitively in Major League Gaming but it has replaced my reading life. Unless i find a book other than the bible that i actually want to read… I just dont read…

    Tv doesnt really attract me much.. Tv because nothing’s really on other than news and sportscenter. However the internet does as i watch youtube stuff throught out the week.


  • Good article and unfortunately its very true.

    Why do you think boys (and girls) are reading less these days? Well i think that because of the stories given to us in school some young adults may think that this is what stories are like so they choose not to read. That’s one thing… I dont know if its true or not but i think it may be one thing. The other reason why kids don’t like reading in school is because the stories are just plain boring. Yes, they might have a good moral to the story but the young adults in our age group want something that has a love story, or action. And they don’t read because school’s dont give them that. Third, young adults our age want something new. Think about how big
    Harry Potter was when it came out, or twilight. They were selling tons of books. Why? Because it was new, an adventure and entertaining. Oh, and i never read those at all. Completely destroyes everything i believe in whether its a book or not. 🙂

    Have you seen technology (e.g. video games, Internet, etc.) replace reading in your own life? Do you think that’s a bad thing? Yes i have seen it replace my reading because i am a very big gamer and i play competitively. Is that a bad thing. Ehh there’s pro’s and con’s but for the most part it would be better for me to read then not to.


  • My plug goes for Ted Dekker. He captures the mind while capturing biblical principles. However, I tend to agree with the video game notion. As a “gamer” myself, it is far easier to indulge in a visual make believe world than to create it with my mind. It wasn’t until I was isolated from video games that I learned my love for books.

  • I read quite a bit and some of that comes from the fact that my mother is a writer ;p

    It was always instilled in me to love and take adventures through reading. I also had never played a video game until I was at my cousins at 11 years old or so. I sometimes tell myself to “ban” facebook,gmail, and other sites until I refocus on what I am reading and give me time not only to absorb the book but also ponder and reflect on it and ask myself questions. I believe that is when the major learning takes place is when you can seperate your ideas from the author and understand his worldview and any bias he wrote with. One of my best friends reads more than I do and he was always taught that books were a joy and pleasure.

    I believe joys of reading can be helped by how others present it. 🙂

  • I’m an avid reader….so much so, that I sometimes have to fast from readin so many other books and focus on the most important book (my Bible).

    Many of my friend’s (youth and adults) were surprised at what I asked for last year for my birthday….(no, not the latest blackberry)….A BOOKSHELF FOR MY ROOM! Everyone just stood and watched, in awe, at my reaction of utter joy as I tore back the rapping paper to reveal the long-awaited bookshelf. The words of Smeagol (one of my favorite charactors from “Lord of the Rings”) came to mind: “Myyyy preeecious!” 🙂

    I never have been much of a video game or cumputer addict. Even though I thoroughly enjoy and am a pro at snowboarding video games, I only play every now and then. The computer, for me, has been mainly a source of information and a way to organize some (not all) areas of my life ,and I can go weeks without turning on the TV.

    I have several favorites when it comes to authors….many of whom the average teen and even some adults have never heard of. Names like William Jennings Bryan, Charles Finney, Jonathan Edwards, and Alexander Solzhenitsyn, to name a few, sadly leave many with question marks in their heads. Men like these help to stretch and sculp one’s mind in a godly way.

    I don’t only read essays and devotionals, though. Many, in my opinion, have slid down the sad path that says “thou shalt only read the Bible, devotionals, sermons, and how-to-live-the-Christian-life books”….,but I enjoy fiction and nonfiction. Because I have sooo many favorite authors in sooo many fields and time periods, I couldn’t posibly name them all.

    @Zach and @Michael: Good points; I totally agree.

  • Wow. This is an interesting article.
    I have to agree though, that video games, cell phones, and the internet do have a huge impact on how much we read.
    Yes, I have seen it affect my own life, and I think it can be a bad thing, but for the most part, when I’m on the internet, I’m trying to learn something new, or reading something like this. Is that worse than reading a book? I don’t know, but I really hope not.
    Yes, I have limited the use of technology in my life on purpose so that I could focus on other things. A couple years ago, I had an iPod Touch, and I spent almost all my time playing games and watching videos on it. When I realized how much time I was wasting, I sold it. At the time, it was a hard decision. I felt like I wouldn’t be able to live without it, but now I’m really glad I did it. It’s opened up so many opportunities to try new things, be physically active and start reading books again.

  • I believe there may in fact be a plethora of good books out there, books that have substance and are a meaningful read. The problem is that they’re not always publicized. Schools have turned to having students choose the books they’d like to read (out of a list), and often this list doesn’t include literary classics. I understand not including Shakespeare (tough stuff to read/understand), but simply taking meaningful, well written books out in favor of books that superfically stimulate the brain is disappointing to me. There are good NEW books out there, but they’re simply not being known to kids out there. Often the only truly good books I find are in the adult section.
    It’s not only the fact that TV and internet are huge time wasters. It’s the fact that our society promotes artifical stimulation. Popular movies are action-packed, romance-packed, or otherwise created to have constant mental stimulation. Not the intellectual stimulation, but just a kind of distraction to keep our brains busy so that we’re not bored.
    If you look at commercials, you’ll see advertisements for video games, Netflix, the latest movie, but none really for books.
    Many guys at my school haven’t even checked out a book at the library for fun before. Meanwhile, when I find the time to brief the shelves, I find treasures I hadn’t even thought existed. At those times, I only wonder why I hadn’t been there more.

    Books have truly opened my mind, allowed me to travel the world, experience cultures, and experience so many ideas, helping me to think and form my own, all while wearing my PJ’s and sitting in my living room. It’s really granted me the ability to see things from other people’s shoes. I used to read a lot when younger, books were so much better than movies in my mind. I could imagine better colors, better characters, than any movie based on a book could. God gave us powerful imaginations, and books are truly a way to delight in the imaginations he gave us. As I got into middle school my love for books died, I’d rather sit in a chair and gawk at the screen than put myself into a book. Reading constantly for school has made me want to just relax by watching a movie lately. Society has simply forgotten the importance of excersizing the mind, and a words stimluate the mind in a way nothing else can. This article reminded me of the importance of books though. Much needed, thanks!

  • Karen Kingsbury books are some of my favorites. If you like Karen’s books, have you checkout Dee Henderson? I love the intertwining multiple plots with the leaning on the Lord. I just wish Dee had written more books since I’ve read all the books she has written. Anyone know if she writes under another name?

    And for a face-paced action-filled series about a 16 old boy, Callum, from Australia trying to solve the mystery of his dad’s death, check out The Conspiracy 365 series by Australian author Gabrielle Lord. I’m into the 5th book and so far there is no smut or anything I would object my kids reading. And it is refreshing to have a series totally enthrall an audience without romance being the focus. Come on really, does every book need to have someone fall in love and live happily ever after? That’s not real life, ya know?

    I’ve been selling books through Usborne Books for 18 years and have never seen a series of books turn reluctant readers into avid readers as this series has. Librarians have been telling me that they have boys and girls on waiting lists for the books (12 in the series, January-December). The books need to be read in order. 🙂 I’m reading May. 🙂

    I’ve been gathering tips to help kids with their reading. One of the easiest things we can do is free and it involves of all things, your TV! By turning on the closed captioning on your TV; your family reads the words while hearing the words being spoken. If we all did that would the kids in our life (boys and girls) raise their reading and therefore want to read more? Hmmmm.

    Deb Casey (BoostReadingSkills)

  • Wow. Good article. I think technology has a huge impact on just about every single area of our lives. Including reading. I agree one of the main reasons that boys (and girls) are not reading as much is because of technology. At the same time, I am such a huge reader, I have often read way too much at one time, or read a good book at the wrong time. (i.e. a suspense novel instead my Bible.) I don’t think technology has really affected my reading that much. I don’t have a cell phone, Wii, Xbox or anything like that. Just a TV and Internet. I hardly ever spend a lot of time in front of TV. However, I have often completely wasted a LOT of my time on the Internet just like I would reading a book. It really just needs to be in proportion. As to the last question, hmmm. Sort-of. I mean, sometimes I have to get off the Internet so I can cook dinner or spend more family time. However, I’m normally on the Internet for 40 minutes about twice a week, so mostly I don’t need to cut back on my ‘tech time.’ 🙂 I’ve also seen technology, namely, Christian movies, draw our family together. Still, I’ve seen that go out of proportion also. Basically, our priorities have to be straight. (something being a Rebelutionary has helped!) 😀 God Bless! oh, btw, I’m the “Taylor” girl that left a short comment a week or so saying that I had gotten your book for Christmas, waited a while until joining the Rebelution, because I was able to see past the lie that said I wasn’t ready to join yet. I just changed my name to Isabel because I saw their was another Taylor commenting. 😉

  • Hey, Guys! I liked the C.S. Lewis quote, too. Really, what he saying is that we need to start teaching morals again.
    I don’t usually let technology interfere with my life too much. Call me backwards, but I just don’t think it’s good for me.
    Thanks for always having good, substantial stuff on here.

  • I am a total book worm! I love books and would never allow electronics replace any good book I like. My favorites include:
    Jane Eyre by: Charlotte Bronte
    Little Princess Frances Hodgson Burnett
    I also like poems and have a 105 year old poem book. My favorite poet is Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
    I totally agree that electronics should be limited and books promoted.

  • I’m glad you post articles like this. I am in a music high school/early college, and I really have very little time to read except on the weekends. This inspires me to get out my unfinished readings and old booklist and to be excited about all the resources God has given us!
    I finished your book “Do Hard Things” today and just found the blog. For sure, I will visit regularly!!! Thanks for everything you do! You’ve met me where I need to be met. 🙂

  • It is kinda true that boys don’t read. Especially with this whole pardoning thing going on. When a boy does this or that it’s ok because…he is a boy and boys will be boys. Our generation lacks discipine the discipline that The Apostles had and also the discipline St.Paul had. If we actually stopped trying to please our children by giving them what they think they need then maybe…..

  • I love reading and have a high reading level, but I have been slacking lately. Library, here I come!! Great article guys!

  • This article is absolutely amazing! It’s so unfortunate that people just don’t care if their children read or not, and they care even less about the content! I notice this everywhere around me – especially at the library, but also even when looking for books on I try to buy books for my little brother for Christmas presents, and it’s almost impossible to find good ones. Everything is either about a Wimpy Kid or something extremely disgusting.
    Video games definitely contribute to this. I think it’s probably because video games don’t require a lot of effort – you stare at a screen, run around, shoot things. There’s no real mental connection. Books require a modicum of effort.
    Also, has anyone noticed that a lot of boys have trouble reading? I know a lot of kids (admittedly, most of the ones I reference here are public-schooled) who are basically illiterate. To them I think it would probably be impossible to attempt reading a book. Just a thought.

  • Hey! Great post! Forgive me for the change of subject but I have a question: is there a spanish translation of “Do Hard Things”? If not, what can I do to help make it happen? I’m sorry for asking here and now but I don’t really know where I’m supposed to contact people with questions like these. Thank you!

  • I am so enjoying all your conversation on this topic.

    I wonder if it could be related to how we are teaching children to read. A number of years ago I read a fascinating article on reading test scores from the UK.

    At age 8 the boys were 11 % behind the girls in English and readin
    At Age 11 they were 14% behind
    at age 14 they were 18% behind.

    I was so taken by this I remember the numbers to this day. In the UK they attributed this difference to the number of schools no longer teaching phonics (now all UK schools MUST teach phonics). Boys brains are wired differently to girls. There are less connections between the two halves of the brain. Girls brains can cope much better with a whole language approach to reading without phonics than boys can. I have read that a full 15% of boys never learn to read without learning phonics skills.

    Now what happens when a child does not read well? They don’t comprehend the story. When they do not comprehend the story it is not fun so why read? I am big on reading (I sell Usborne Books) and was not entirely happy when my fourth son stopped reading for fun around about 3rd /4th grade. I, too, was privelaged to listen to Jim Trelease (of the “Read Aloud Handbook”) and he shared with us that the way to raise a reader is to read aloud to them long after they can read for themselves. So… I did just that. I started reading outloud in the car while waiting for the school bus starting by reading usborne’s “True Stories of Heroes”. I had my then 4th grader and his 6th grade brother in the car. Neither of them had heard of Chernobyl. So began a reading adventure. My 4th grader, now in 7th, was described by his English teacher recently as never without a book in his hands.

    Usborne also has a wonderful crazy reading program called “Reach for the Stars” and there are reading challenges and rewards and being a boy my son was very motivated to read. In one of our reading challenges for two weeks he read every available second from 6 in the morning until lights out. Boys need fun to read but not trash.

    Learning to read is like a mountain a child must climb and only on the far side is reading fun. As parents we can help to get them over the peak. If we are to raise readers we need to help them read with comprehension. Reading aloud to our older children – sharing more interesting books with richer vocabulary – is one way to help get them there.

  • funny i found this because around last august my youth pastor was preaching in sunday morning service(senior pastor was on sybatical[not sure if i spelled that right]) and he pointed out that guys need to “SUCK IT UP STOP CRYING LIKE LITTLE BOYS AND READ!!!!!. its like eating those veggies on your dinner plate that you despise” not alot of people agreed to it(even my dad thought he was nuts) but i started to read more, and Nic was right that reading helps you grow more, ive read about 17 books since august and one of the was Do Hard Things. and its lead me to do hard things

  • A few commenters have said that boys (and girls) don’t read as much now because there aren’t any books worth reading. That may be true in some schools (I was homeschooled so I wouldn’t know), but it’s NOT true of the printed word in general. There are SO MANY great books out there! C.S. Lewis, Jane Austen, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Dickens, the Bronte sisters, Mark Twain, P.G. Wodehouse, etc., etc….all of these are great, classic authors, and most of them wrote a LOT of books. There are even some modern writers who are putting out some decent stories – N.D. Wilson, Megan Whalen Turner, and Jeanne Birdsall are a few names that come to mind. And I haven’t even mentioned nonfiction!

    Anyway, my point is: there will always be plenty of great books out there for those who want to read. All you have to do is look for them. The search can be a “hard thing” sometimes, but there is nothing more rewarding.

  • @ Rachel R: Great point! Like you, I don’t think fantasy novels are wrong by any means. Books like The Chronicles of Narnia, while some would probably consider them to be fantasy novels, have resonated with many Christians as holding spiritual significance as well. And that’s just one example…

    What I meant to say is that I think we should make sure what we’re reading is truly beneficial. I think a lot of times people act like you’re on the right track just because you have a book in hand, while failing to realize that recreational reading is not always the best way to spend one’s time. Certainly it does have its place (just like television and web-surfing), but I think we need to guard against taking it to the extreme. Like I said in my last comment, I don’t believe such books should make up the whole of our literary appetite.

    Thanks for the comment! I hope I was able to clarify my last post a bit.

    In Christ,

  • I already commented a while ago on this articlePeople these days are reading trash, they read horror books like, “Killing Mr. Griffin”, instead of reading books like, ” I Kiss Dating Goodbye”! They are also reading things relating to the following topics:

    1) Sex
    2) Pornography
    3) The Celebrity Magazines

    With technology to today you research something everything else comes up. I take a high school Spanish class and we were talking about different adjectives such as hot (hot meaning- spicy food) and we had to find a picture, when I typed in the Google search bar, “HOT” these naked ladies came up! What was up with that? Technology seems for fun than books, one kid came up and said the following:

    ” I think that books are dumb because they don’t tell you about kids, and fine, and video games and computers and girl, and sex, and those sort of things. Technology is now, books WERE THEN!”


    ~In HIS Name.

    Ruth Thomas

  • This is so true. I have many guy friends and I seldom hear them talking about books..or loving books!

    I think the internet, social media, and video games have so much to do with this. Many years ago, when my sisters and I would get bored, we would read since there’s no internet and not to much video games to turn to. And those are the greatest days of my life!

    Well, I guess I have to discipline myself to read some books every month. I also haven’t read in a while!

    It just feels so bad that everything is given us these days, and nothing is left for the imagination, nothing to stimulate creativity. The internet and all these video games entertain us but don’t inspire us to have passion for learning and developing our gifts.

    Of course, the internet is not bad in itself but it takes discipline to be able to prioritize the most important things.

    God bless you!

  • I love reading. I read more than most other things. My parents are very restrictive on electronics. I didn’t get my first cell phone till my 14th birthday. I never thought that my limited access to electronics had to do with my love of reading. That’s interesting.

  • I LOVE to read! If I was allowed to, I would be reading 24/7. My favorite books include: The Lord of the Rings by J. R.R. Tolkien, Do Hard Things by (you guessed it) Alex and Brett, Sense and Sensiblity by Jane Austen, Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Those are just a few of my favorite books. In fact, my dad thought that I read LOTR (Lord of the Rings) to much so I have not been able to read it for the past year. Thankfully, that is when I was introduced to Sense and Sensiblity! I must say the gift of books and of reading is DEFINATELY a blessing!
    God bless you guys!

  • Schafer Admits Fantasy Of Flatulence On Youth…

    Since its transformation from a huge boxed game developer to a download-centric house with multiple projects going at once, San Francisco-headed independent developer Double Fine has released two games: Costume Quest, late last year, and now Stacking, …

  • Coming from a teenager slightly addicted to late night madden tournaments with my friends I still find this article quite well written. There is a major truth behind the message. I did, however, just finish Do Hard Things and just wanted to acknowledge what a great book it is.

  • I think that it is the serious topics that are being read less and less as time goes on. Boys read alot, but the question is: Is the reading improving them, or wasting their time? I personally love reading, and have widened my knowledge and understanding of how people think by doing so. It is an indispensable art to be able to read and hear what they are saying between the lines.

  • Very interesting article. I do think that technology has crowded out reading in this generation however I also think that in past generations other activities have crowded out reading. In NZ past generations mainly went to school and spent most of their other time doing farm work and general household chores. Lots of my schoolgoing friends don’t read as much as my homeschooled friends however that isn’t always because they don’t enjoy reading. For some it is a case of spending time doing homework, practising music etc, not always electronics but things that they are required to do or need to do to fulfill their potential. Homeschoolers also have an advantage in the fact that they have more time to read and often this is incorporated as a part of their work whereas this takes a backseat in a school education.

  • one factor why teens today are reading less is because of the environment they are indulge in..
    another is the orientation they had when they are still a child..

  • Wow, thanks for a great article 🙂
    I definitely agree that there is a vast difference in boys’ interest in reading vs. girls. But, although I see the role video games play in the problem, I also believe there is another difficulty: modern reading material.
    What new, modern books are hitting the top ranks for teens these days? What I see, most of all, is teen fiction and “finding yourself” books. But not only “teen” fiction or finding “anyone’s” self; the protagonists are mainly female and the books are greatly lacking in classical literary value. And so, although Sir Fartsalot Hunts the Booger is unlikely to qualify for proper reading material, I can’t help but question how much more the female-oriented counterparts are offering. And they ARE female-oriented – they are geared to a female audience to play on whatever sells to them nowadays. Classic books go largely unread, except when forced upon students at school. It’s a real shame, to say the least. Reading classic, truly rich literature has become only a chore – the “real fun” is in emptier, modern novels.

  • In answer to question #3: I’ve definitely had to watch my computer time, but I think the draw to Internet is different for girls than for boys. Personally, I have no interest in video and online games, but I can waste hours on email or Facebook. I have to force myself to get on with an agenda, check off my online “to-do” list, and then get off, without spending time browsing or “seeing what everybody is up to.” Easier said than done!

    In answer to question #2: The Internet, however, when used properly, can be a huge supplement to literature. Lately I’ve discovered theology blogs– wow! There’s a lot of really great written works online, and I sometimes even prefer blogs to books; they’re short and address very current issues.

    Sam– THANK YOU! I totally know what you’re talking about!!! The past few times I’ve been to a Borders or a Barnes and Noble have been colossal disappointments. I’m nineteen and I like to read fiction that is clean, well-written, and thought-provoking. Apparently that’s just what’s NOT out there– or at least, not popular enough to make the bookshelves. I can’t find anything at all in the teen fiction section but sleazy high school drama and dark vampire romances.

  • @ LKD :
    Don’t go to the teen section in bookstores, it’s mostly all literary poop. Go to the religion section. Most of the books there are Christian, and you’ll find tons of teen fiction.

  • i have read books like harry potter and it almost turned my brain to mush it didn’t make you think i prefer books like Shakespeare’s twelfth night. and boys and girls are reading less because no one thinks boys are going to want to read in-depth books because they always say “thats to hard for him” or “she won”like that” no one gives them the chance to be interested.

  • I think technology really could do something in your reading system. its either could break it or make it. It will always depend on you how you will use your resources(technology) that are available in your hand.

  • […] …Boys Who Read.  I’m a reader.  But as much as I read today, I read a lot more as a child (even when you factor out school work vs. career stuff).  Why?  I had less electronic distractions.  This article talks about boys, how their reading level is less than girls and possible reasons why.  They mention video games as a culprit, but I think it would apply to computer games, TV and movies as well — anything electronic (including my laptop). […]

  • I sometimes think that my mom goes a little overboard about my time on the internet. I love reading but I also find the internet interesting and fun. This article has really opened my eyes to the advantages of reading but what about facebook? most of my classmates go online after class is done and I feel kind of left out when they talk about things on facebook. Still, I opt for books 🙂 and it’s true about how they can keep u hooked when there’s nothing else to do!

  • I’ve always been a reader. I’m 13, and I’m reading a adult aged level, and i have been for several years. I read a lot every week- partly because I’m homschooled and read about 70-80 pages a day. But I also read on the side

  • because boys are left on their own (not reading or reading less) as somehow understood as “a stage they are passing” like adolescent.
    ….we need to have C.S. Lewis’ mind —- train them up! (Proverbs 22:6)

    on Q#2, yep, technology can hinder (even totally stop…some may argue that they read online, but, what about the content?) …about 8 years ago, our family made a decision not to watch TV anymore when in our house (we have still the TV, but not using it). It was by the grace of God that we overcame it (as 4 out of 5 of us were so hooked to watching tv, from morning to late nights, and even after having arrived from church meetings (a 1-minute walk from our house) we would turn the tv on for the rest of the time. Talk about Good Source being overrun by trash.
    what was the result in my life? Due to the lack of TV-time, it opened me up to reading! yep, I was not into reading when i was younger, but this time led me to reading! from school lessons and some few articles and especially – God’s Word.

    That was the time that i started reading God’s word personally (not because i was forced, well, maybe it may seem i was a bit *bored* but God was inviting me). and I would receive ministry and a touch from God.

    #3, — im starting to decrease web/computer usage, and yes, it opens up the opportunity to read —-BUT, i will stress this, YOU HAVE TO MAKE A DECISION TO PICK A GOOD BOOK, AND START READING AND FINISH IT.

    God bless everyone, may we all rise up and raise other great readers ~ especially of our King’s word

  • I agree that what kids read is essential for a good civilization, and matters more than getting them to read any old thing. The German nation was among the most literate in the world when Adolf Hitler rose to power, something on which to muse.

  • I love to read just about anything. I know that a lot of kids view themselves as anti-reading, but sometimes that is just because everyone else in my grade views it as being a nerd if you like to read. Somehow, that doesn’t apply to me in their eyes and i seriously think it wouldn’t matter if someone else decided that they enjoyed reading also. I think that sometimes the world just gets into technology too much and don’t know how to unplug just a for a little bit to experience the world that is opened up when you read a book. SOme of those worlds are so amazing, i don’t understand why people wouldn’t want to enter them. Guess they just need to be introduced.

  • When I was in 6th grade I had to write a report on video games. I Learned that electronics are probably the #1 thing that keeps people from reading or doing other creative, constructive things like going for a walk, playing an instrument, sports. Some People are so addicted to video games they will play 24/7. One teen in China died from playing 51 hours straight! I’m not saying video games are bad, i’m just saying people need to use moderation and not let them get in the way of your social life.

  • I love this article!!!!!!!!!!!! Everyone should read at least one chapter of at least one book every day. I should be careful though–my parents once took away my reading privileges for a WEEK once! I read a lot. Reading brought me to this site!
    But PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE read something worth your while. (As in not Tuck Everlasting, Twilight, Harry Potter, etc. Those books are trash.)Jane Austen ROCKS a faint note of feminism in hers. C. S. Lewis is even better, and not just the Narnia series. The Screwtape Letters is very good too. Lucy Maud (L. M.) Montgomery is good too, with Anne of Green Gables. And I will stand by what I always say: THE BOOK IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN THE MOVIE, SO NO CHEATING!!!!!!!!

  • Wow….that’s all I could say after reading this article. I have a past I look back on as a nightmare, a pastime that consisted of video games on the Internet. The sad thing was that I would spend HOURS(hours is a plural word..and if you think I mean two or three your wrong,It’s more along the lines of several) doing this:( haha then my book-aholic sister recommended a book called ‘Troll Fell’. I read it,it was exellent and I told my sister to recommend books more often. The book that really got me into reading was ‘The Hunger Games’ by Susan Collins(Im not one to remember the athors name. Lol). This perfect fusion of futurisum and political awesomeness inspired me to cut the crap and read more. If you are reading this, REMEMBER THIS NAME!!!! SUSAN COLLINS!!!hahaha:)
    I enjoyed the end of that article about how homeschooling boys have the same reading level of girls:) I’m homeschooled.

  • I LOVE to read, and am currently reading the Screwtape Letters By C.S. Lewis. My little brother, on the other hand, has stopped reading almost entirely. If he does read, it’s LEGO magazine. it really disapoints me, because when he was younger, he read all the time. Now all he cares about is buying the latest video game. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with the video games he plays, which are mostly puzzle games, but he’s also slowly becoming morea and more distant from our family and more and more hostile toward our little sisters. More sad than this is the fact he NEVER reads his bible anymore. the Devotionals we do he is now doing based on the comentary in the margins. I really REALLY hope he starts to read more. Just pray for him to give up a couple hours he’s playing a day and starts reading the Bible and other good Christian books.

  • So true! I parent four children (add my husband and his best friend in there for good measure!) and am constantly fighting the media monster. I’ve even drawn schetches of the various members of our house in the same room but all separately consumed by their little boxes. We have shelves and shelves of books that have not been read. I feel like the bad guy. I find myself resenting our technology, but I have no one to blame but myself. It’s just so much easier to just let them do what they want, and I’m so tired of fighting.

    This article has given me fresh artillery and resolve. I hereby resolve that I will discuss this with my family and we will endure the painful withdrawl of boredom so that we may discover intellectual delight.

  • Humm, I know I commented above, but I just found a new article that might surprise some people.
    A bit of background, though, on the article so that no one mistakes my reason for posting it. The author Richard J. Mullberry, wrote several books (and a newspaper) critiquing the current academic settings/notions or his time. He never went after very specific groups, but in critiqued Teachers, Students, “Academics” (the ones that sit in their office all day and do not do any teaching), and Professors alike. So I would highly advise reading his books, because they actually make sense as to why people read less and what are some things that we can do about it; just saying “read more” doesn’t help when people don’t know how to read.
    Then go under Underground Grammarian Newsletters, click Vol. 2, and go to No. 5 May 1978. Read the first article.
    (The website also has all of his books on there, for free, if you wanted to read them)

    The most interesting thing about his books/newsletter is that these were published in the 1977’s(!) but when I first read them I could have sworn they were published in the recent 2000’s


  • I have always LOVED reading books. Ever since I my mom taught me to read at 5 (I’m homeschooled) I would read anything I could understand and get my hands on. I am 15 now and I still love reading, but have realized that ever since I really started using the internet 3 years ago my reading has slackened. A few months ago I decided that I had to stop “plugging in” as much as I was and start reading to improve my mind. So I started limiting my time on the internet to only at night and the weekends, and I have been reading so much more. And seriously it is much more fun. Thanks for posting this!!

  • So many of these comments keep naming technology for people not reading in general, the point of this movment is for us to do hard things as teens, not figure out what the problems is this world are and not do anything about them. If the guys who created this website stopped working after they had figured out that there are those of us out there who want to “Do hard things”, then this whole website and movement would never have happend. Evey age had there problem ( Ex. the plague, WW1 and 2) technology just might be part of ours. Now would be the time for me to come out and have a great idea about how to fix this. . . but i don’t because it won’t just be one answer it will be many solutions, from kids, teens, and adults everywhere. you can’t just want to get across the street, you have to have the idea to walk, then decide to take a step, then another and another till your across the street, so lets get an idea and take a step.

    P. S. it is not the best idea to be saying that technology is to blame, when article and the comment that we are writing on is on the internet/technology

  • i know i just wrote something but i had only been through half the comments by then i finished them and WOW i thought i had opitions. you talk about teens reading trashy books like twilight, . . . when let explain this with an example:

  • well i had an entire example typed but the computer won’t let me post it, anyway skip the example, i agree with the first half of articles but the second half i didn’t agree with, people commented on trashy novels. i’ll just say i like those books, but at least i am readin. it is onething to tell kids to read it is another to tell them what to read

  • Maggie. Grown ups are in our lives to help direct us to what is best for us. We are here to obey and learn so we can teach the generation after us. I agree with the whole article.I love reading books that are not only good books but are food for the mind and soul.

  • Maggie, there is absolutely nothing wrong with reading what you want to… except the Bible says what we put in is what we will take out later. reading these things like Twilight may influence how we think a relationship works. I’m not being particularly mean to you or anyone, i’m just saying…

  • I remember when I was in elementary school, Goosebumps and Animorphs were the greatest things in the world. I read all the time–nothing else. I just read. Constantly. But I didn’t read non-fiction. Those were too boring. Fiction books were the only entertainment I could find.
    Then in middle school I realized that most fiction books PUBLISHED TODAY are distasteful, yes…even Goosebumps, so I stopped reading altogether.
    It wasn’t until my freshman year in high school that my youth pastor DARED me to read–but I didn’t pick up a fiction-nonsense book. Instead, I began to read resourceful Christian books for teens by teens. Not only have I fallen in love with God all over again, but I’ve also fallen in love with reading. Now, I also read philosophical and psychological textbooks for fun, and I can claim that my knowledge of the world has increased ten-fold.
    Scholastics, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, video games–everything is based on idiotic crude humor and violence. I suggest restricting children from such mindless nonsense. They might hate you now, but one day they’ll thank you.

  • Wow and i would have of guessed the complete opposite. In all my schools that i’ve been in (my family moves around a lot because of my dads work) more boys are reading than girls! I read a lot, but thats because when i was little my Mom was always giving me little books like Magic Tree House and stuff like that.

  • You may be somewhat comforted in the fact I have not heard of SweetFarts and think such things to be blissfully rare here in the Great South Land of The Holy Spirit (note that I wish the country reflected that name). It may be due that I went to a private school, and so was isolated from it.

    » Why do you think boys (and girls) are reading less these days?

    1. Schools
    The school I went to forced us to read books that were boring. Yes, there was wisdom in those books but just as much wisdom (or perhaps more) was in the western novels I read (and still do) as a teenager of my own free will. If people think all books are like the ones they were forced to read in school, it’s no wonder they don’t even start reading.

    2. Lack of Recommendation by Friends
    If a brother or friend recommends an author, I know I’m not wasting my time by reading it. If no one recommends anything to me…Luckily for me, plenty have recommended plenty however I reckon this is not the case for many. Neither was it always so for me as I often ran out of Lous Lamour books to read and didn’t bother with anything else. Also, many good books seem dull after reading the likes of Lous Lamour and I didn’t find his equal, and as such didn’t read a lot, until I picked up a Dekker book (and now I know of quite a few that are considered batter or equal).

    3. Video Games and TV
    I used to watch the simpsons every night – now I watch nothing but the odd collectors show or whatever. Likewise I used to play video games a lot (as much as I was allowed to) while now I can’t think of a game I have that isn’t at least a few years old (Partially due the fact I buy only $10-20 games, so they are old when in store). Looking back I know I should have spent more time in other things like reading. What I needed was for someone to give me an alternative – an exceptional book both entertaining and confronting.

    » Have you seen technology (e.g. video games, Internet, etc.) replace reading in your own life? Do you think that’s a bad thing?

    At times, yes, but there is one thing of grave importance: The availability of technology was not the problem, I was the problem!

    Like I said, a better alternative is invaluable.

    » Have you ever purposefully limited your technology intake to focus on other things? What happened when you did so?

    Not specifically that I can remember, but there are times when I didn’t what a movie so I could finish homework/assignments – and I was the better for it. I rely too heavily on email and have some duties on one forum, and I do like to spend at least some time coding to keep my skills growing each day so to just turn off the computer for the week is not an option. I do sometimes open notepad (as I’m doing now) and write what I did when so I can keep from going off track.

  • Reading is like breathing for my whole family – even my brothers. We once had a lady come up to my mom in our library in shock because all three of my younger brothers were quietly sitting around a table with their noses buried in books. She said she had been a teacher once and never had she seen boys so quiet or engrossed in books.

    I think that to get guys interest sparked in good books, families should read aloud together. Our family has done this with a lot of books like the Narnia books etc. Now even though we are done with those books (and have seen the movies too) the boys still love them. It’s the same thing with audio books; the guys can listen to them while they’re playing or riding in the car.

    > I think kids aren’t reading so much these days because they’re too caught up with video games and they just don’t know how satisfying a classic book can be.

    >I have never seen technology replace books in my life at any time. Where I live I can’t get cell service at my house and so texting and talking on the phone for hours on end has never been a problem. My mom and dad don’t allow us to play video games although a few computer games are OK. Nor do they allow me to have a FB or Twitter profile.

    > Right now my family has given up computer games for Lent. I know I was getting too addicted to them and I am resolved not to let myself go with them again.

  • I HATE THAT SOOOOOOOOO MUCH. my bother toold me i had to read more and stop playing vidgames so much. i just got patapon 2 and its SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO FUUUUUUUUUUUNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • While I do agree that kids should read more and play video games less the names of the games were kind of rediculas (pardon my spelling errors) the zombie butts from uranus sounds a bit far fetched.I see no problem with captain underpants because there are little 2nd graders reading it and those books are funny they are not made to be classic liturature (wich is highly over rated).Again less video games should be played it is rediculas how many hours video games take up in a childs life.I mean I see little kids playing war games that is not right.As far as the fart and other books go these are weird people reading them not normal people in middle school.I may have looked at a few of those gross books when I was little, but not to look at the pictures and laugh I found It interesting and I learned some things. Farting is normal is it so wrong to know why it happens. I see no problem with reading twilight im a guy i read all those books I liked them its a love story, wasn’t romeo and juliet? And isn’t that classic liturature. I read it, it made me want to love a girl and not use them my brother just watched twilight he said the same thing. So all in all people should play less video games but the article was a little over exadurated on the farting and grossness factor in books (once again pardon my spelling and grammar)

  • Hey, Nathanael
    Look, i love videogames. In fact, i just about went crazy when i heard Portal Two was coming out. But you need to realize that there are only so many hours in your life and wasting them on videogames isn’t really the best way to use them. Read a book, man. Video games are awesome, but they totaly limit your imagination.
    If you like roleplaying games like World of War Craft or The Elder Scrolls, why not try writing rather than reading? I mean, you can do whatever you want with your charecters. you can even invent your own creatures that nobody else could think of. besides, i think creating things like books and charecters gives us a taste of how happy God was when he made us.

  • As a reader, I remember when I was in 3rd Grade I would read every book in the library imaginable. I even read the Harry Potter series then! But then now that I look back, I feel like I want to go back to the old days and read like I used to. But now everything has changed so much, what with this stack of homework and even stress about worldly things but I am encouraged by these words to read more.

  • Wow Daniel O! I actually have a brother that’s going through the same situation as you! Goodness Gracious! You’re so cool! I hope you get through this trial! Though life brings you sorrow, remember that there is another out there, another soul who will forever be your fan. That would be me.

  • Guys reading… i know what a problem that is. I have a little brother and a few friends that could use reading this article. But let’s not point fingers. some girls are the same way! reading books… girls have problems with that too, what with all the movies and music, Justin Beibers and such. Reading is SO useful and i don’t think we’re being challenged enough.

  • Wow. The only guys in my life who like reading are my big brother, my dad, my pastor, my sorta brother, and my uncle and grandpa. I personally love reading and spend hours of my time devoted to it. I go to the library like 1 or 2 a week. Haha, but I hate how guys never think its useful, cuz it is. I learn so much by it, and would love it if other people understood that too.

  • Why do you think boys (and girls) are reading less these days?

    I think boys and girls are reading less these days becaus of the way our culture is as a whole. Everybody wants instant satisfaction with everything. For entertainment instead of reading we watch movies or play video games. For meals we go get fast food instead of sitting down preparing a meal together as a family. Hardly anyone sends letters through ground mail anymore it’s all texting and instant messages and email. These can be great tools but they have our minds wanting everything instant. We have this burger king philosophy now “My way. Right away.” People don’t like sitting down and reading unless it brings them instant gratification. With video games and movies we just put it and bam it’s there for enjoyment. We like things instant and without any work. It takes work to read a book. It takes us effort to read and comprehend what we are reading. People today don’t learn at a young age the importance of doing work physically and mentally. We want things with little effort, instantly. In order for boys and girls to get into reading again I think we would have to take some drastic measures in the home. Limiting time on the computer, video game system, cell phone, and tv. Or getting rid of them all together. If we didn’t have the resources in our home but we had a stack of books right there it will force us back into a reading era. Books are so essential in life. I regret that I didn’t start reading books on my own earlier in life. Especially the Bible. Which has so much power to help in our lives everyday. We need a young generation that can lead but without books to guide us, give us direction, and wisdom we won’t have good Godly leaders for tomorrow. ” A reader is a leader and a leader is a reader.”

  • This article is totally me! Ever since i learned how, I’ve always loved to read… and then I discovered video games. Now, the TV, computer games, and other electronic forms of entertainment lure me away from books, and i need the help of my parents, my peers, even my older sister, not to become a vegetable. I think this all leads back to three simple words I am sure we all know. Do hard things. or maybe you could change the word hard to productive. I have only one life to make a difference on this earth, and I sure don’t want to spend it wasting away in front of a computer!

  • I can answer all those questions at the end of that wonderful article. And yes I’ll be answering these questions as a girl and not a boy.

    1. All the girls I know like reading. All my friends read, except one. She’d rather be with her guy friends than read in some cozy nook. But, boys. Boys,boys,boys. I have quite a few friends that are male and they hate reading. They can do it, but they dislike it. The things that they like are action, blood, and gore. Sure give ’em a book with action and all that other stuff and they’ll read it, but the thing is Men and Women don’t write books that cater to YOUNG boys and what they like. Usually all the good books that those boys would like, are the action-packed books that a MAN wrote for OLDER men, not YOUNG boys like themselves. And plus if a boy were like me, they would read the books that have action and blood throughout it. But with my books there is almost always some kind of romance in it. Boys don’t sit in bed and squeal about it like girls do. And if they read a book like that they’d most likely skip all the good parts, the romance parts in my opinion, or just quit reading the book altogether.

    2. I have to admit I am a computer junkie. But I always find ways to read, even if it’s on the computer so I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I get off around 7:30 most nights and sit in front of the TV and read until 10 o’clock or later some nights. If I don’t have to get up early.

    3. Well I haven’t ever really needed to cut down on my intake. Sometimes if the book is good enough I won’t even get on the computer and leave things for a later date, just so I can read that one book. My whole family reads books and if you ever walked into our house you could see Me, My Dad, and My sister sitting in the living room reading a book while the TV is blaring in our faces. We only really have the TV on for the comfort of it not being completely silent and it being awkward if someone talked too loudly or something. Sure I have the Computer, a TV, and a little gaming console, but for me I find that the shows I watch are either based off a book I’ve read, Like a book I’ve read, or it’s not something completely stupid that I think it might rot my brain out. Example, all those shows that people let their kids watch, almost anything on Cartoon Network now, rots those kids brains and then they start thinking, ‘This is what I like.’, when they’ve never even read a GOOD BOOK! Those shows and things are all the same, dumb and gorey over here, stupid and perverted over there, they all have the same basic shape. And another thing! DO NOT LET YOUR CHILDREN HAVE THEIR OWN TV OR COMPUTER IN THEIR ROOM! It just makes things worse. And most of the time I’m on the computer I find some way to read something or I’m doing something productive. And another thing, on all my little games and stuff, they’re mostly all puzzle games or games I really have to think about to get all the way to the end.

    This is my opinion of why children don’t read more and what the things are that are making them like this. I answered all of the questions at the end of that article in order from which I read them. I would appreciate it if someone would read my little comment and see if they agree with me. My opinions are a little old fashioned but they’re mine.

    Kathryn A. a girl who has a screaming passion for books and their authors.

  • I, myself, am a gamer, and I enjoy that. I also enjoy reading, but I always have had a hard time playing games that have no story. So one day I realized “these games do have a lot of similarities to a good story!” Books are great because there, you can find a part of the person who wrote it. I believe that most teens like me, need to just find the kind of story that they enjoy and see that books, like games, are very varied and there are books out there that they would enjoy. So on the most part I think the problem to blame here is not videogames because, without realizing it, the teens who “hate reading” are reading already.

  • I was so encouraged by this! I enjoy reading but I do not read that much. I’ve got my games lined up on my desktop and I am aware that these things took my passion on spending time with books. It’s been affecting my performance in school and I do not want these things to continue its hold on me. I’m so blessed and happy that I bought the book which led me here. I didn’t expect God has much more to teach me! I’m up to do greater things this time. I’ll have to avoid the computer tables, get out of this small box and do the things I was made to do. I think after all I’ll be spending more time with the Bible. Life without video games would not be easy but here comes nothing! (or something, or whichever is funnier) Godbless!

  • I think that girls read more than boys because how much a person reads depends on how much they read and are read to when they are little. Most people expect their toddler boys to watch tv, be active (as in playing outside or run around screaming), make trouble play video games, and play the computer so thats what they do with them and encourage. But if you have a rather wide variety of books to read to a child and for him to read once he is learning he realizes that not all books are the same and that if he may find one type of book extremely boring there is always some other type.
    I personally read alot, probably more than is healthy. Sometimes I have to conciously cut back on the amount of time I spend reading because I realize that i’ve been negleting something; often cleaning my room. I think that I read so much because when I was little my mom bought books for when I could read and I wanted to prove that I could read them. It also really helps how much you read to have people suggest books to you. If you get to a point where you are out of books that you know that you want to read someone suggesting one to might kindle your interest in a different genre of book.

  • Oh, one more thing. I’ve been homeschooled for seven years and have never heard of grossology parties. I believe the very idea is disgusting. If you want boys to read more you need to start when they are little. It may be best to have no video games and very limited computer until at least kindergarten if not longer. If you do that they are likely to like books by the time they enter school, if the cannot read them themselves they’ll probably enjoy being read to.

  • My name is Nathan Macko… I am 19 years old, i live with my dad. About 6 or 7 months ago my family got “legaly separated” i guess that is what they are calling divorse now. I struggle with Bipolar Disorder… and it makes it VERY hard to do almost ANYTHING my dad asks me to do… I don’t want to live agenst him… but, more and more… I dont want to do what he says. More, i spend most of my day on my PC (desktop) and i cant tear away… Any ideas on what to do?

    PS I think Emily Musick might be right on being addicted to my computer… but I CANT GIVE IT UP!!!!! my dad has one… and he uses it for work, sooner or later (IF i do give it up NOW) I gerantee I will end up With another… some how or another!


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  • […] “We must train ourselves to feel pleasure, liking, disgust, and hatred at those things which really are pleasant, likeable, disgusting, and hateful. We must constantly ask ourselves whether the things we put before our eyes train us in this way, or further distort our ability to appreciate {what is} good, true, and beautiful.” -the Harris brothers’ newsletter, February 3rd 2011 […]

rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →