If They Can’t Read, They Can’t Write

About eight years ago, all of us witnessed the beginning of a trend toward e-reading. The idea was if we put books and material on screens rather than paper, the younger generation would literally read constantly. At least that’s what people thought would happen. Instead, we never saw that race to literature and reading among the younger generation.

We all know that reading and comprehension are important, that all people are better off, better skilled, if they can read. We also have this wicked and necessary idea that all people should be able to write. In fact, writing has supplanted reading in many classrooms. In the void created by e-books, writing instruction and time devoted to to it increased.

There’s one problem though. Less-capable readers are always less-capable writers. Why is this? One, in order to write, a person must have experienced many sequential forms and arrangements of words. Those who read witness these combinations over and over day after day. Those who don’t read don’t get this experience. Two, those who read can much more quickly assess structural needs and establish those structures in writing. Think of it this way: tell someone who’s never built a house to build a house. Third, reading creates a motivation to write. When one reads, they want to try writing themselves. Since the reader wants to try, there’s an effort present to do. With a non-reader, there’s no experience with writing that creates energy.

I truly think we are at a serious crossroads. We have an entire generation of young people who won’t write, can’t write, and avoid writing. This generation is our future communicators. We cannot allow continuance of a non-reading lifestyle. In my view, this non-reading approach stems from the addiction our young people have to electronic devices. Even a reader who owns a tablet or has a reading app on their phone will struggle with the temptation of games, social media, and internet that lurks just one window click away.

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