Reading in a World Wide Web of Distraction

Hosted by

The National Endowment for the Arts has a program called The Big Read, encouraging Americans to read books and talk about them together. The NEA program is one response to a disturbing finding: Americans are reading less and reading less well. That's according to an analysis of 40 different studies. Human beings are not genetically programmed to read; they have to learn over time—by reading books. But books are giving way to the Internet. As reading scores decline, some researchers claim the Internet is promoting quick, superficial thinking instead of the wisdom that comes with patient study. Nobody wants to get rid of books, but kids spend more time on the Internet.  Should schools teach them to use it critically? Should Internet 1A be part of the basic curriculum?



  • Sunil Iyengar - Director of Research and Analysis, National Endowment for the Arts
  • Maryanne Wolf - author of “Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World;” Director of the Center for Dyslexia, Diverse Learners, and Social Justice at UCLA
  • Elizabeth Birr Moje - Professor of Literacy, Language and Culture, University of Michigan
  • Lee Siegel - writer and author


Warren Olney