Reading in a World Wide Web of Distraction

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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, "To Read or Not to Read: A Question of National Consequence." Humans are not genetically programmed to read, but have to learn over time by reading books. Books are giving way to the Internet. As reading scores decline, some researchers claim the Internet is promoting superficial thinking instead of the wisdom that comes with patient study. On this archived To the Point discussion, we consider whether schools should teach children to use the Web critically. Should Internet 1-A 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