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Tossing Pebbles in the Stream

This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Reading for Fun. . . . .And Profit?

























"You Can't Tell a Crook By His Card, Eh!


The above cartoon made me think of my friend Denis who is currently on vacation at "Club North Bay Jail" at the invitation of our judicial system. The wild child, as I affectionately refer to to as, got a little out of hand. Enough said.

While Denis does not have a very extensive formal education, (two years of high school, I think)
he is quite an enthusiastic reader. He has read several substantial books from my library and we have enjoyed discussing them.

This is only vaguely related to what I decided to blog about, the importance of reading in Canada. I was reading lately that Canadians are still buying books at their usual rate or higher in spite of these hard economic times. While at the same time our American cousins are buy books less. It seems Canadians do not see books so much as a luxury but as a necessity, even in hard times
This lead me to do a little research and try to understand how American and Canadian culture differs with regard to reading. I did not have to look far as the government does this kind of research, not for my benefit but for the benefit of the book retailers.

It amazes me how much useful information the government publishes which is free for the asking. For example, years ago I learned how to extract semen from a boar using a fake sow for him to mount, my hand and a styrofoam cup. I don't think I need to pursue this any further.

Returning to the study. ( I encourage you to read it). It seems Canadians read quite a bit. Much more than our southern neighbours. Perhaps, our winters are just much longer! Seriously, I don't know why. It would be interesting to know why. Also, the amount of reading Canadians are doing is not decreasing over the years. The Internet, to which we are among the most connected in the World, is not interrupting our "important' reading for pleasure. They expect Canadians, as an aging population, will continue to read a lot and even increase the amount of reading.

Here are some telling quotes from the study:

On the Amount of Reading

"A 2005 readership study by the Department of Canadian Heritage (PCH), Reading and Buying Books for Pleasure, found that nearly 9 in 10 (87%) Canadians said they read at least one book for pleasure in the 12 months preceding the study1 and that half (54%) read virtually every day. The average time spent reading is 4½ hours per week (unchanged since 1991); the average number of books read per year, 17 (down only slightly from 1991). Fully one-quarter (26%) reported that reading is the leisure activity they most commonly engage in, as many as cited TV-watching, putting reading and TV-watching in the #1 spot among leisure pursuits in Canada (and dwarfing “Internet activities,” which only 9% cited). These findings support the PCH report's conclusion that “reading for pleasure remains a solidly established and widespread habit with little or no change over the last 15 years.”"

On the Importance of Reading

  • "Nearly half (43%) of Canadians said they enjoy reading “very much,” and a further 39% like to read some of the time (PCH).
  • Eighty-five percent indicated that “reading is very important to me” (PCH).
  • Eighty-two percent said they “read for fun” and 72% to “relax/unwind,” higher than the 60% who read to “learn” (CPC).
  • Forty-three percent picked “reading books” as an activity they would choose to do if they had more time, virtually tied with the #1 pick, “visiting with friends in a home” (45%) and the #3 pick at 40%, “out of home entertainment” (CPC)."

How Canadians Compare with Americans

  • "Canadians' reading rate remained virtually constant over the past two decades, while Americans' declined.
  • Where 87% of Canadians read a book in a 12-month time frame, 57% of Americans had.
  • Where 79% of Canadians read literary materials in a 12-month time frame, 47% of Americans had.
  • Where one-half of Canadians read virtually every day, almost half of Americans read an average of less than one book per year."

For me the amount of reading Canadians do is surprisingly high and is held in high esteem as a worthwhile activity. The contrast with the Americans is startling even shocking that the gap could be so wide. There is obviously a wide cultural gap here. I have yet to understand its significance. Are Americans action oriented while Canadians are reflective: outer directed compared with inner directed. Perhaps, it explains, in part, Canadian's greater awareness and appreciation for the World beyond our borders. Does it say anything about the differences in our educational systems. I do know Canada has a very extensive free public library system that reaches into ever,y community. Even our little town of 100 families, or so, has a small branch of the West Nipissing Library. (And this is a community where there is a large number if functionally illiterate men who left school early to work in the mines, the forest or on the farm.)

I shall continue to try to understand these differences in my life long interest in comparing and contrasting Canadian and American Culture.

6 Comments:

At 8:58 PM, Blogger Anvilcloud said...

That's weird. I had never considered that there would be a disparity.

 
At 9:32 PM, Blogger Mary said...

Philip,

Interesting statistics. My mother doesn't like reading and that is definitely difficult for me to understand. I read at least two books per month and sometimes that number per week. Reading is my way of relieving the stress of the world. A good author can whisk you to places you would never imagine. You can travel the world over and beyond between the covers of a good book.

Enjoyed your post and your visit. Dakota (pup) is fun, but he can also be a handful. However, it is very satisfying to teach him social graces and lessons of life. He is a smart puppy and I'm very happy with his progress.

Blessings,
Mary

 
At 8:30 AM, Blogger KGMom said...

Are young people in Canada subjected to the same distractions of "entertainment." In the U.S. kids have so many electronic ways of entertainment. Video games, television, I-pods and on and on.

I asked my students if kids watch too much television. Last semester one student told me I was behind the times. Television is out, video games are in. Of course, books don't feature in this at all.

I certainly push the values of reading all I can--but I am dealing with college freshmen. By then it's too late.

Maybe another component--the busyness of lives. Parents who read to children engender children who read for themselves.

 
At 10:36 AM, Blogger possum said...

Gee, someone once said my house looked like a cross between a library and a museum. Fortunately, they meant it as a compliment! Usually I have 2 or 3 books going at one time -plus one in the van for Drs visits and other waiting things. I seldom read what I call "junk" books - books read purely for entertainment - mindless, silly light mysteries, mostly that I read once in a while to give my brain a break from the heavy duty stuff.
Then, too, I read a lot of articles on line... mostly political stuff.
amazon is the only site on line that has my creditcard #... and they LOVE me.
My TV is unplugged until 5:30 PM - local news, and is usually unplugged again shortly after 9 unless PBS has a special on.
I am not a member of netflex and have not been in a theatre in so many years I have lost count. I have no video games, don't own an iPod, and had a CD player in my vehicle before I had one in the house. Now how backwards is that?
I have an antennae so I am limited to 7 channels when the weather is good. AT our summer place we have 110 channels available (our tenant has cable) and still we turn the TV off most the time up there. Would rather sit up back on a rock and listen to the river and birds or out in a rocker on the front porch.
We go on vacation with a pile of books in case it rains.
So maybe it is the long winter up North... I envy that sometimes when I am mowing leaves and weeds on Dec 1st, hauling mulch in January, etc. But, I usually have camellias to pick all winter.

I think it is great the parents who read to their kids and teach them the joy of reading.

 
At 8:29 AM, Blogger amelia said...

I can comment again, my son fixed it for me!!

I'm with you and like you in a lot of ways!! Amazon have my card too and I have one click buying!! My hubby and me read every night in bed and any other time we can find. He reads more that me because I have to share my spare time between reading and knitting!!

What is Netflex?

 
At 3:43 PM, Anonymous Sis said...

Interesting statistic on reading! I had no idea there was such a gulf. I like to think the CBC has played a role in creating a literate population with it's literary and thought-provoking programs. This is why I am supporting the petition to Save the CBC. They also promote reading with a regular series, Canda Reads, in Feb, I think, when 5 or so books are chosen and read by known personalities who discuss and vote on their favorites. We now also have Toronto Reads. The Toronto Public Library has the largest circulation of any library in the world! Also the library promotes reading with Book Clubs for adults. I belong to one and find it most enjoyable. Many friends also have their own private Book Clubs. Our young people and adults have all the same distractions as our American neighbours so I don't think we can explain the difference in those terms. If you discover any other research on this topic, Phil, keep us posted

 

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