I’ve been a big reader for about as long as I can remember. I started with nursery rhymes, fairytales, and various picture books. When I was a little older, I moved onto Beverley Cleary’s books, in particular Ramona and Her Father, The Babysitter’s Club series, Kit Pearson, Cynthia Voigt, R.L. Stine, and Christopher Pike, among others. However, a conversation that I had recently on Facebook with an old classmate suggested to me that my love of reading was by far the norm. As the organizer’s behind the National Reading Campaign gear up for The National Book Count, which takes place between January 10-16, 2011, I’m let wondering whether we’re still going to consider ourselves a nation of readers after the official results are in.
Don’t get me wrong — I really want to believe that our long held beliefs and pride aren’t without merit. In fact, the idea of understanding how many books for adults as well as children and teens are buying and checking out of their local libraries in a random January week will give concerned librarians, booksellers, parent activists, authors, teachers, bloggers, publishers, and corporate leaders some pretty valuable information. First, it’ll give us the ultimate answer to this burning question, “How central is reading to Canadians in 2011?”
Moreover, it’ll give the organizers an understanding of the number books that Canadians currently acquire for themselves, through both purchase at a retail or online location and library circulation, which will then serve as a baseline that can be use to compare Canadians’ reading levels in years to come. In addition, the same data will be used to compare how central reading is in Canada vs. any other countries that invest in a national book count.
Have books and reading been replaced by other activities, like exercising or competing in sports, or by other technologies, like video gaming, TV watching, or Internet browsing, in Canada? By Wednesday, January 19, 2011, we will not only have the results of this book count, but also we’ll have a better idea about what kind of work the remaining two TD National Reading Summits, in Montreal on January 20-21, 2011 and at a later date, in Vancouver, will need to do in order to maintain our literary pride. One thing is for sure, with a survey including 80% of the retail book sales and the book circulation habits of approximately 10 million Canadians, the results of the first ever national book count in Canada will give us a significant understanding of the importance of reading to Canadians now and in the future.