Are Kids Reading Books Anymore?
Book circulation is falling in different types of libraries, and school libraries are not exempt. But we can hope that if kids are not reading print books then perhaps they are reading eBooks. However, based upon the electronic statistics at our school library, we are not seeing fiction circulation in the electronic format either.
In our situation, the decrease in circulation is not in the use of curriculum-related books. Instead we have a decline in reading for pleasure. As a result, we often fear the overall lack of library circulation correlates to the decline in reading comprehension test scores.
A recent editorial in the New York Times addressed the problem of reading comprehension. The author, Daniel T. Willingham, argues we are going about teaching reading all wrong:
“Current education practices show that reading comprehension is misunderstood. It’s treated like a general skill that can be applied with equal success to all texts. Rather, comprehension is intimately intertwined with knowledge.” (Willingham)
Is Technology to Blame?
A 2015 study conducted by Consumer Insights Microsoft Canada attracted attention when it declared that due to technology, goldfish have a longer attention span than humans. Many began to think with such a brief attention span how could we possibly finish a book.
Are students simply choosing technology over reading a good book? This may be the case in many situations but a number of our students feel the pressure to take advanced courses so there is no time for pleasure reading. Beyond the time factor, interest in reading for pleasure is killed by required texts, analysis and annotations.
Does Genre Sorting Really Increase Circulation?
For years we have used unique curation in our “marketing” of fiction and nonfiction. We hoped that jaw-dropping book displays like you might see in New York City store windows might entice our young readers. However, we have resisted the trend of genre organization of fiction because it seemed an organizational nightmare for us. We wondered if it would be worth it to reorganize such a large collection. But given our falling circulation numbers we feel we must act.
This holiday break we started the process of genre sorting in the young adult fiction section. This process is probably different for each library; however, it helps to see how others have worked through the process.
Some helpful resources we found:
Genre Organization Then What?
Once we sort the fiction section and decide upon categories that makes sense for our collection, then how do we proceed? Do we have a big “genre launch?” Do we really work with our core readers and have them try out the sections first? How can we encourage reading among those who do not have the time or the inclination? We hope to document the process over the next few months. Furthermore, we hope to see true improvement in reading circulation!
Consumer Insights Microsoft Canada. “Microsoft Attention Spans Research Report.” Consumer Insights Microsoft Canada, Scribd, 2015,
Willingham, Daniel T. “How to Get Your Mind to Read.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 25 Nov. 2017,
Author: Hannah Byrd Little
Hello, I am the Library Director at The Webb School of Bell Buckle. I use my past experience in college and university libraries to help my current students in school libraries transition into college, career, and life. I am currently the lead Senior Class Adviser for the Capstone Project. I also served at the state level with the Tennessee Association of School Librarians executive board from 2009-2013 and was the TASL president in 2012. I am certified as a Library Information Specialist for PreK-12th grade, have a BS in Communications with a concentration in Advertising and Public Relations, a BS in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Education and Information Systems and a Masters in Library and Information Science.