Wednesday, August 12, 2009

maybe the children really are the future...

One day, a few months ago, I was bored at work scrolling through Publishers Weekly's website (I currently work for a corporate chain bookstore, and PW is one of three websites we can access at work - the other two being oure own and NPR) when I came across an amazing study put out by the National Endowment for the Arts, announcing that the number of Americans reading has finally gone up for the first time in almost a decade.

about. damn. time.

"At a time of immense cultural pessimism, the NEA is pleased to announce some
important good news. Literary reading has risen in the U.S. for the first time
in a quarter century," said NEA Chairman Dana Gioia. "This dramatic turnaround
shows that the many programs now focused on reading, including our own Big Read,
are working. Cultural decline is not inevitable."

What I find most interesting about the study is that the demographic with the biggest jump were the youngins' - those aged 18-25. At first that kind of knocked my socks off. But after thinking about it for a bit, it did make sense. Right now in the bookstore, Young Adult is the fastest growing section.

Did Harry Potter save the written word?

We are still in the depth of Meyer's post-Potter Twilight mania. Between Charlaine Harris, P.C. Cast, Melissa De La Cruz, Laurell K. Hamilton, You can't walk throughout the store without bumping into at least one tween being sucked into the vampire genre.

Even in our independent reader section (aged 12-15), we are seeing crazy growth. You still have your classics - The Giver, Wrinkle in Time, Where the Red Fern Grows - but also some epic tales joining their ranks: Christopher Paolini's prodigal Inheritance Cycle, Erin Hunter's ever-expanding Warrior Series and my personal favorite Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan. This series is so amazing, I'm convinced that Mr. Riordan is coating his pages with crack and selling them to children. If he wasn't such a good writer, I'd be the first demanding he be thrown in jail....

I have to say, as I shelve in our kids department, it a pretty exciting time to be twelve years old living in today's literary world. So in the end, it's not surprising to me that the younger readers have increased the most in the past few years, and hopefully this will be a trend that will continue to head in the right direction...

1 comment:

  1. I haven't picked up any of the young adult or below books since Rowling. What I was amazed by with the Harry Potter books was her ability to entertain adults and kids. It's a gift that kept me going to the second-to-last book. My co-workers are always reading children's literature and it's a compelling scene to witness. And I have to admit, in this age of 'blogs and social networking sights and phones that play movies, I thought kids were going to go down the manga/graphic novel route (which I am assured is still literature and where some thought-provoking things are being done) instead of caring about the word on the page in the text. I want to live in a world where kids want to read and adults want to read kids' books. Maybe even together, you know?