Have youth given up “serious reading”?

I was extra sensitive to any sort of assumptions made about youth when reading through some articles this week. This article¬†No future for serious reading¬†published in the Sun discusses Stan Persky’s book Reading the 21st Century and the author’s concern that young people are no longer reading anything of quality. I am so tired of this irrational fear of society’s culture going down the drain because the youth today are uneducated in what are always subjectively labelled “culturally significant” works. Is society doomed because kids are not fluent in Latin and are playing angry birds instead? I think Persky’s statement that information technology devices are not being used to access information and knowledge is completely unfounded. Kids are accessing information and creating content all the time from their phones, laptops, Twitter accounts etc. Persky does acknowledge that the act of writing is flourishing but doesn’t attach any significance to youth being content creators. Interacting with knowledge, rather than passively accepting information, is so important for engaging youth with society.

On the other end of the spectrum, here’s a great article on Chicago Public Library’s YOUmedia project that gives young people the tools and space they need to be content creators. I love the description of the One Book One Chicago project as a way to engage with traditional reading material in ways that are new and innovative. Youth redesigned the book jacket, reimagined scenes through photographs, and performed spoken word pieces inspired by the book. I love this video of one young man describing his experiences at the library through a spoken word piece. It most certainly makes me think we are far from doomed…

Malcolm London YOUmedia