National Library Day: Why the Reading Culture Is Fading Among the Youth

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The world celebrates National Library Day on April 6 to recognize the importance of libraries in our lives. We also take time to reflect on the importance of books in our lives and assess our reading culture. Libraries are a treasure as they provide people with access to tonnes of books they otherwise wouldn’t be able to get.

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That said, libraries don’t seem to have the same attraction they used to have. The evolution of technology has centered our lives on the smartphone, reducing our interaction with these institutions. This begs the question, why has the reading culture declined among the youth? We provide answers.

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Technological Distractions

National Library Day: Why the Reading Culture Is Fading Among the Youth
A laptop and a smartphone. Source: Photo by Kenny Leys on Unsplash

This is one of the biggest talking points on National Library Day. Young people have been raised with smartphones. They’re accustomed to swiping left and right, spending time they would otherwise use on books, on social media, scrolling, liking and ‘interacting’ with their followers. As a result, there’s little interaction with books growing up hence don’t develop a reading habit. 

Additionally, there are a lot of entertainment options at our disposal, from Netflix, and Hulu to Amazon Prime. All these things are competing for our attention and reading takes a back seat.

Lifestyle Change

National Library Day: Why the Reading Culture Is Fading Among the Youth
Cars in traffic. Source: Photo by Nabeel Syed on Unsplash 

It’s a fast-paced world, they say, and this has massively contributed to the decline of reading culture. In between the everyday hustle and demands, people are finding less time to read. 

Most of our day is spent at work, and from there, we go home to rest and prepare for the following day. On weekends and holidays, you’re out and about catching up with friends or traveling, and before you know it, it’s working again. On National Library Day, we have to discuss how we can integrate books into our busy lives and find practical solutions.

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Emphasis on Digital Literacy

National Library Day: Why the Reading Culture Is Fading Among the Youth
A kid on a laptop. Source: Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

There’s a lot of emphasis on digital and multimedia learning and the traditional way of reading is slowly being faded away. This has also changed the way young people consume content. Edutainment (education and entertainment) videos are becoming the norm which means there’s less interaction with books, which don’t offer instant gratification like videos do. This makes it significantly less popular than other forms of content consumption.

Education System

National Library Day: Why the Reading Culture Is Fading Among the Youth
Kids in class. Source: Photo by Ismail Salad Osman Hajji dirir on Unsplash

The education system prioritizes passing examinations which leaves students under a lot of pressure to memorize the syllabus. It’s an ineffective way of getting them to enjoy reading books outside of their coursework as they feel overwhelmed. 

Additionally, this approach to learning doesn’t foster critical thinking and analysis. Instead, once a student has finished an exam, they forget what they crammed and repeat the cycle throughout their education life.

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Short Attention Spans

Social media exposes us to too much information at the same time, making us unable to focus on one thing. This leads to multi-tasking and takes our ability to focus on one thing hence reducing our attention span. Traditional reading requires prolonged focus and unfortunately, many young people prefer quick and short videos hence the decline in reading culture.

Lack of a Reading Culture

National Library Day: Why the Reading Culture Is Fading Among the Youth
Books on a shelf. Source: Photo by Ionela Mat on Unsplash

According to Statista, American adults spent on average 15 minutes in 2022 reading compared to 20 minutes in 2020. In comparison, young Americans spend on average 5 hours and 25 minutes on their smartphones daily. This demonstrates that the reading culture is rarely inculcated into children and a shift in interest.

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How to Foster a Reading Culture

National Library Day: Why the Reading Culture Is Fading Among the Youth
A woman reading a book. Source: Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

We can’t ignore technological advancements that have made the world more efficient. However, as we embrace it, we can also build the reading culture and sustain it. Here’s what we can also talk about on National Library Day to keep the reading culture alive.

Join Book Clubs

Book clubs exist around us and are a good place to foster a reading culture. It holds you accountable as you have a meeting to discuss a book so it motivates you to keep reading. If you can join one, do so. If this isn’t possible, you can cultivate this habit at home by buying books for your kids and setting a time to discuss them.

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Encourage Your Child to Join School Programs

National Library Day: Why the Reading Culture Is Fading Among the Youth
A bookshelf stocked. Source: Photo by Trnava University on Unsplash

Apart from having a tested literature book, schools should set aside reading time that encourages students to read for entertainment, educational and networking purposes. We recognize that some schools have library lessons set aside which helps but at times, it’s not efficient as you’re left alone to do what you want, and some see this as a ‘free lesson’ to relax.  

Create Reading Options

Allow children to have a say in what they want to read. This will normally align with their interests, which will excite them. This also exposes them to a wide range of reading, igniting their curiosity, as opposed to locking them into specific books.

Encourage Book Exchange

How to foster reading culture. Video Credit: TVC News Nigeria

Whether you’re in a book club or not, practising book exchange with family members, friends and neighbors fosters a reading culture. The fact that other people are reading might motivate you to want to read so that when you catch up, you’ll have something to share. People are highly influenced by what others do.

National Library Day is essential as it helps us reflect on our reading culture. Sadly, young people are reading less but we can’t give up. We have to find a way of keeping up with the changes and still create reading time. How often do you read and how many books do you read in a year? 

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