Increasingly, we do need to make the case for reading, because in a growing number of homes books are no longer commonplace. This isn’t just because of a lack of literacy or resource, but also because of the phenomenon of digital crowding. When I was growing up, the distractions were far fewer. One could read, or draw, watch television, listen to music, or run around outside. The palette was sufficiently limited that probably most of the options would be explored. Not so today. Earlier in the year I asked a class of sixteen-year-olds how many hours a week they spent interacting with digital media. It averaged out at over thirty hours a week. That’s more time than they spend in class rooms. From social networks, to video sharing, watching downloaded tv and movies, listening to music and playing games, the alternative to reading are vast, rich and insistent.
Also, how’s that for a book cover?