Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Teenagers & Reading ~ Two Views

I have, counting this post, 13 articles here that are tagged Wattpad <— go ahead, take that link and you’ll see this post plus all the others (and, if you take that link at some point in the future {and, I write about Wattpad again} you’ll see all the other ones, too :-)

More on Wattpad in a bit

There are two recent articles that both refer to a third, all about teens and reading:

First the two:

from Slate: The New Yorker Essay About How Kids Don’t Read Takes the “Get Off My Lawn” Genre to Dark New Depths

from The Guardian: Teen readers aren’t in crisis, they’re just making their own rules

Both of those articles are trying to correct the claims in the following article from The New Yorker

Do Teens Read Seriously Anymore?

You can decide if you want to read the first two after I’ve shared a few excerpts from the third one:

“It’s very likely that teen-agers, attached to screens of one sort or another, read more words than they ever have in the past. But they often read scraps, excerpts, articles, parts of articles, messages, pieces of information from everywhere and from nowhere. It’s likely that they are reading fewer books.”

Remember, for later, that he said it’s likely they’re reading fewer books

“Yes, millions of kids have read Harry Potter, “The Lord of the Rings,” “The Hunger Games,” and other fantasy and dystopian fictions; also vampire romance, graphic novels (some very good), young-adult novels (ditto), and convulsively exciting street lit. Yet what happens as they move toward adolescence? When they become twelve or thirteen, kids often stop reading seriously.”

Notice the broad implication about “serious” reading…

“Much of their social life, for boys as well as girls, is now conducted on smartphones, where teen-agers don’t have to confront one another.”

One more:

“Reading frustrates their smartphone sense of being everywhere at once. Suddenly, they are stuck on that page, anchored, moored, and many are glum about it.”

O.K., I can stop excerpting now; but, if you want to read a person seriously out of touch with the teen world, you can finish that piece

Now, I want to share a link to another article, from the magazine Eater, called Here’s Anthony Bourdain’s Foreword to Marilyn Hagerty’s Book Grand Forks, and, as I share an excerpt, trust me I’ll tie all this together:

“If you’re looking for the kind of rapturous food porn you’d find in a book by M.F.K. Fisher, or lusty descriptions of sizzling kidneys a la Liebling—or even the knife-edged criticism of an AA Gill or a Sam Sifton—you will not find it here.

“The territory covered here is not New York or Paris or London or San Francisco. And Marilyn Hagerty is none of those people.

“For 27 years, Marilyn Hagerty has been covering the restaurant scene in and around the city of Grand Forks, North Dakota, population 52,000.”

So, what does that excerpt about food snobbery and a more humble and honest food writer have to do with teens and whether they’re reading “seriously”?

First, what is “serious” reading for a teen?

Let me start before that—what is “serious” reading for a six-year-old?

Is it Shakespeare?

And, “should” teens be reading Charlotte Brontë or Ray Bradbury or Allen Ginsberg?

Maybe that writer in The New Yorker wants teens to be reading the equivalent of “rapturous food porn”

Remember that excerpt up there that said: “Reading frustrates their smartphone sense of being everywhere at once. Suddenly, they are stuck on that page, anchored, moored, and many are glum about it.”?

Now, I can close the circle and bring Wattpad back.

There are over 40 million folks using Wattpad to read (for free) !

And, somewhere around 80% of those people are below the age of 18 !!

Plus, about 85% of those teens are reading on their smartphones !!!

And, for me, the real clincher is that most of those roughly 32 million teens are also writing on Wattpad !!!!


Just ran out of !s…

So, my experience of Wattpad includes teens and they read my serious books and they leave me serious comments and they’re doing it on their smartphones

Nuff said…

The defense rests…
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2 responses to “Teenagers & Reading ~ Two Views

  1. juliecround March 2, 2016 at 10:31 am

    I have a horrible feeling we are witnessing the death of imagination – at least, the imagination of the individual. Of course there are still very imaginative films but are young people losing the ability to turn WORDS into pictures? If so, humans are evolving into something different – but I won’t be here to see it!


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