Creating a Reading and Writing Community with “Teens for Literacy”

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2015

Publication Title

Tennessee Association of Middle Schools Journal


Link to Document: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8FRHElqh_z-ZENmOWlndmNHdHc/view

Ted Hipple never tired of extolling the importance of giving adolescents books in which existed characters and issues that interested them. He chided English teachers who complained, “If you let kids read these teen books, they won’t read classic literature,” with his standard retort: “It’s not WHAT, it’s THAT” (1997). These days, teachers worry less about WHAT students are reading because many students aren’t reading at all. The data on today’s American reading habits is alarming. A study by the National Endowment of the Arts paints a grim picture of reading for pleasure among teenagers: The percentage of 17-year-olds who do not read for pleasure doubled over a 20 year period. Fewer than one-third of 13-year-olds read daily. And, as teens read less, their reading skills worsen. Employers now rank reading and writing as the top deficiencies in newly hired employees, as one in five U.S. workers reads at a lower skill level than the job requires. Most troubling, both the ability to read and the habit of regular reading have greatly declined even among college graduates. The research makes clear the social, economic, cultural and civic implications of that decline (NEA, 2007).