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Kids And Reading: Bad News In The Battle Of Facebook vs. Shakespeare

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Most of us of a 'certain age' spent our high school days drowning in complicated words from authors like William Shakespeare, Mark Twain and J.D. Salinger. Is that the case these days? Recent surveys out of Britain -- as published by Reuters -- suggest the only literature teenagers are reading these days comes in the form of Facebook statuses, tweets and texts.

A poll of more than 18,000 youngsters between ages eight to 17 found less than half chose to read a book outside of class once a month. One in six had failed to read any book at all during a month-long period and close to 20 per cent had never been given a book in their life. Not surprisingly, text messages were read far more than books.

So kids don't like reading. Is this really anything new? Not necessarily, but the problem appears to be getting worse; similar studies done in 2005 showed far more promising results.

"The most important change since we last did this study in 2005, is the significant dip in reading of all formats -- fewer books, even fewer websites. Life is much fuller and richer in terms of what you can do and all forms of reading are being squeezed," Jonathan Douglas, the director of the National Literacy Trust, told U.K.'s Channel Four News.

It's not hard to realize the decline of proper reading spells trouble. "We are worried that [children] will grow up to be the one in six adults who struggle with literacy to the extent they only read to the level expected of an 11-year-old or below," Douglas added. Most of us don't need to look any further than our own Facebook feed to see proof of this.

Still, it's not all bad news -- just under half of the participants in this recent survey say they enjoy reading. The tricky part is figuring out a way to get them do it. The popularity of teen novels like 'Twilight,' 'The Hunger Games' and 'Harry Potter' certainly helps, but as Douglas says, in order to properly address the problem, "We need something hotter than Potter!"

WATCH: Tips To Get Your Child Reading

Around the Web

What Kids Are Reading - Renaissance Learning

Kids' Reading List - Oprah.com

Study Reveals What Kids Are Reading for School -- THE Journal

What Do Children Read? Hint: Harry Potter's Not No. 1