Tish Fobben is the direct response manager at the University of Nebraska Press.
A recent Shelf Awareness newsletter headline caught my eye, “RIF Survey: Reading Important, but Not a Top Summer Priority.” Shelf Awareness reported “a new survey commissioned by Reading is Fundamental and Macy’s found that 17% of parents believe reading is a top summer priority and that children spend nearly three times the hours playing video games or watching TV than reading during summer vacation. . . . While summer reading may not be the top priority, 83% of respondents still considered it extremely/very important to them that their child reads this summer.”
I recognize the disconnect between “very important” and a “high priority” in my own life. I just don’t expect to see it in other’s. Books have a lot of competition out there and I have been repeatedly shocked (and insulted, I’m afraid) by how compelling a TV program, computer game, or Nook app is for our five-year-old daughter, in comparison to, say, a conversation with me.
But as a book publisher and the parent of a young child, I have to believe that reading is fundamental. (And I do.) I’ve heard experts recommend that parents model reading during the day (since children are typically in bed before their parents settle down for their own reading). Although most parents of a young child can only fantasize about the luxury of reading during the day—there is nothing as powerful (or contagious) as behavior, good or bad. Since the summer solstice I resolved to “get caught reading” by my daughter. (The days are getting shorter now—there’s no daylight left to waste!) Reading during the day goes against my longtime, frustrating tendency to save the pleasure of reading until my bedtime, at which point I doze off after a few paragraphs—thus making an “extremely important goal” a low priority.