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Kingston students barely read

By River Reporter Mar 21, 2013

A survey has shown that almost half of KU students only read three books a year, and kids’ stories are more popular than the classics.

Petya Tashkova

Kingston students are under fire after a survey showed many barely pick up a book – and when they do, lots only read children’s fiction.

A shocking four in 10 KU students have read three books or less in the past year, research by The River revealed.

Junk food literature

KU students would rather pick up “junk food” literature like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings than their course books or classic novels like To Kill a Mockingbird.

Professor Meg Jensen, KU English literature lecturer and author, said: “There is nothing wrong with reading Harry Potter if you are 12 or studying children’s literature or publishing.

“But it is the literary equivalent of junk food – processed, easily digestible with little nutritional value. It won’t do you or your brain any real good.”

Practice makes perfect

Prof Jensen warned students that they will never be able to deal with classics by the likes of Jane Austen and George Orwell unless they start upping their reading habits.

Prof Jensen said: “It is certainly true that today’s students, with many exceptions, read less than they used to do, and find more complex texts almost impossible to decipher.

“The trick is that reading, like any other discipline, gets better with practice, and if students don’t read much they won’t become better readers.”

“Lack of skills”

Lecturers are convinced that bad reading habits are closely related to poor academic performance.

Academics worry that a startling number of students prefer to spend hours on Facebook rather than read a single chapter of a book.

They are frustrated by students’ inability to express themselves verbally in class, and the “lack of skills” demonstrated in essays

KU book club?

Some were shocked at the survey of 412 students, showing they read next to nothing.

Tess Al-Kabi, 24, a pharmaceutical undergraduate, said: “I thought a lot more students would read for pleasure. I know there are time constraints but personally I love reading. Some people may consider being seen with a book as ‘uncool’, but I don’t think it is.”

She also believed that more people would take interest in books if the university started a book club.

John Griffiths, 21, a computer studies undergraduate, said: “Why read when there are so much more interesting things to do? After a long day at Uni, the last thing I want is look at another book. I would rather watch a movie or play on my PlayStation. I don’t see how reading a novel is more beneficial.”

The survey revealed the favourite titles for students were children’s books. Topping the list is the Harry Potter series, ahead of classics like To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby and The Grapes of Wrath.

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