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Quotation


"Reading - the best way to learn"
Aleksandr Pusjkin

Read and listen


Allt frre mn lser bcker
(Fewer men read books)
Pressmeddelande frn SCB
2007-02-07

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Lsfrmjande r ett lagarbete
(Reading promotion is team work)
from Bokpriskommissionens fjrde delrapport, SOU 2004:9

A BOOK FOR EVERY CHILD
Reading program for children in cooperation with schools, libraries and booksellers.

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Hard Rain    No 25    February 12, 2007
Alarming statistics on book reading
The signals from the SCB welfare statistics must be taken seriously. In school we have the opportunity to give every child a lasting understanding of the joy of reading. That is where we can break the negative trend.
 
Every week 2,6 million adults in Sweden devote themselves to reading books. On the other hand 1,6 million, almost every fourth adult, never open a book. These facts can be found in the investigations on Swedish living conditions made by Statistics Sweden (SCB/ULF).

The statistics of Statistics Sweden is rather unique. For 30 years a random choice of 7 000 persons, age 16-84 have answered the question Have you been reading books in your leisure time during the last 12 months? Alternative answers have been YES, almost every week, YES, now and then and NO never. In the present material from Statistics Sweden we can follow the extent of reading from the beginning of the 1980s.

It is evident that fewer adults read books and that this is due to mens reading. 22,0 percent of men and 16,2 percent of women age 16-84 did not read books in the beginning of the 1980s. 20 years later as much as 30,9 percent of men, but only 15,3 percent of women, answer that they never read books.

The age group contains 7 036 000 persons, evenly divided between women and men. From this population 540 000 women and 1 080 000 men never open a book. These are big numbers and an astounding displacement of reading interest between sexes.



Decreasing reading among children has attracted attention (i.e. Barnbarometern 2002/2003 and Kulturbarometern 2002). The new statistics from Statistics Sweden shows the seriousness in earlier signals. Now we can also see a decrease in reading among young adults, age 16-24.

  The number of young men who read books every week has decreased with 34 percent from 1982 to 2005. Among women the decrease is a remarkably high 26 percent. Out of one million young adults every fourth person never reads books. 20 years ago only every eighth person in this group didnt care about books.

The splendid presentation from Statistics Sweden also tells us something about the effects of the reduction of Swedish VAT on books from January 1st, 2002. At the survey in 2003, one year after the reduction of VAT, the number of regular readers has increased. The effect is temporary, from 2004-2005 the numbers are falling back again.

If you look closer into the tables you will find that the accustomed readers are reading even more, no doubt encouraged by the fact that books have become cheaper. This effect is specifically evident among older women, a traditionally strong group of readers.

The signals from the SCB welfare statistics must be taken seriously. It is not enough anymore with reading promotion for those who are readers already. More must be done in order to get significant results.

In school we have the opportunity to give every child a lasting understanding of the joy of reading. That is where we can break the negative trend. Cooperation between school and library comes into focus. Experience shows that close cooperation between librarian, teacher and students give very good results. But they must get resources and support in their work.

It takes engagement and knowledge to promote reading, but also economic contributions from government, local authorities and organizations. In this spirit the Book-in-Sweden Foundation and the booksellers have moved right into the classrooms with the reading program A BOOK FOR EVERY CHILD (EN BOK T ALLA). There is definitely room for more initiatives of this kind in order to bend the reading curves upwards again.