Research shows that reading is becoming less popular among children. Last month was World Children’s Book Day. What is the situation in the Stichtse Vecht?
Read here the essay by student Esther Abels, Utrecht School of Journalism.
Several studies show that young people read less and less books. According to a recent study called “Digital Reader” by Stichting Lezen, young people read on average ten minutes a day. These numbers have fallen sharply compared to five years ago. Then it increased by 40 percent. The more interest the older children are, the less interest they are in reading books. This is also evidenced by a study from 2019 that Sardis, a research and advisory agency in childcare, among other things, carried out on behalf of the Board of Education. While children in primary school report that at least 80 percent are positive about reading books at home, this has dropped to 38 percent among students at VMBO. There is speculation about the causes. The most common is digitization or inadequate stimulation in the form of reading aloud and introducing children to books.
reading at school
The Graaf Florisschool in Loenen aan de Vecht is not interested in World Children’s Book Day but believes that it is very important to encourage reading. Director Laura Pencil explains: “We don’t pay any attention to this day because we have to make decisions. There are so many days and special initiatives that we can’t pay attention to everything. And yet we pay a lot of attention to reading. We start every morning with a half hour reading the words We look at picture books or read aloud.The school also gives regular book presentations to students.
To her great regret, Penseel notes that children are reading less than they used to. “You used to be motivated by a book, now by TikTok.” She believes that both parents and schools have a responsibility when it comes to encouraging reading. At home, it begins with reading aloud, and at school we also introduce children to books. Unfortunately, we do not have a partnership with a library, so we do not have library books available. I have to buy the books myself and don’t get municipal support for that. This is very frustrating, but who knows, it may change in the future.”
Reading stimulates the imagination.
Mother Simone of Marsen believes it is important to encourage reading at home and at school. Her daughter Rachel is in sixth grade and has been to the library with her mother every month for years. “I read a lot to my children, and now I’m also trying to instill in them a love of independent reading,” Simon says. I was enjoying my books very much. I can then escape from reality and our busy family. Reading stimulates the imagination and ensures that you create worlds, faces, and places in your head. I think this is very important. Rachel reports that she enjoys reading at school. We often have an hour in the afternoon where we can pick up a book to read. Then it is very quiet in class. I’m always sad when it’s over.”
The Maarssenbroek Library also does not organize any special activities around World Children’s Book Day, but offers a wide range of other activities. Medical worker Helen Cox, like Laura Pencil, points out that this has to do with the fact that choices must be made. There are many initiatives in the field of reading. We work with many schools and receive subsidies from the municipality for this. Cox also notes that interest in reading is declining among young people. “Now there are many temptations like computer and television games, which require less concentration, so children are more likely to choose that.” To make children read more, there are campaigns where school children can borrow books or the “Book Fun” campaign,
There is still hope for Mother Simon. I think the rise of video games and Netflix, for example, plays a major role. However, it is likely that this will also change. You see it often with things. People will now also be playing music on vinyl again, so who knows, the “old” book might be back.
An attempt has been made to obtain a response from the municipality of Stichtse Vecht regarding subsidies for children’s books, but so far this has not been successful.
Reporter Yael Munoz spoke to librarian Helen Cox.