Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Read any good books lately?

According to a new Associated Press-Ipsos poll, only one in four Americans has in the last year.

Or, put another way, three in four Americans have NOT read a single book in the last year.

Given everything on their "to do" lists, most principals will not find this terribly shocking. In an age of media overload, reading a book has become a rare treat for people already swimming in e-mail, snail mail, soccer practice, extended family obligations and everything else in between. And per the poll, the fact that you're reading this means you're contributing to the malaise:
Analysts attribute the listlessness to competition from the Internet and other media, the unsteady economy and a well-established industry with limited opportunities for expansion.
So who's included in that 27 percent who haven't read a book? Deeper analysis by the pollsters said a third of men and a third of women count in that category. They tend to be older, less educated, have lower incomes, minorities, from rural areas and are less religious. But take heart: people in the West and Midwest are more than likely to have read a book in the past year. And "many in the survey reported reading dozens of books and said they couldn't do without them."

At AWSP, we're doing our part to help the curve. We know several principals have read books this past year, because they're participating in our book reviews for The Principal News magazine. For the past two years, our business partner, University Book Store, has generously donated several books for our members to read (and keep) and review in each issue. This fall's titles include The World is Flat, The Freedom Writers Diary and A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Informational Age to the Conceptual Age.

So, have you read any good books this past year? Or are you sympathizing with the polling data? And what message, if any, does this send to students?

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