Guess what, Gen Z really can read!

As a young adult, I constantly hear parents and adults say that we don’t read enough. One specific instance was an English teacher that told me to “Go outside and read a book.” A phrase that made absolutely no sense to me. I first thought to myself, why would I go outside to read? And moreover, I do read a lot already, and I’m not alone. 

We live in a digitally-driven age where the attention of teenagers is focused on Instagram, Snapchat or other social media outlets. Nevertheless, it’s terribly misleading to say that ‘Generation Z won’t read’; just because it has become less common to see traditional books or forms of reading, doesn’t mean that the act itself has died out. Gen Z’s reading habits are much more focused on the types of books they read and how they’re reading them. According to Valerie Peterson, a book publishing consultant, “the Young Adult book market is thriving”, and has currently seen a 4.4 percent increase.

Our generation does read, we just read differently.

We are interested in a wide range of topics. For instance, I’m attracted to coming of age stories and literature about women, because it relates to me. Most of my friends liked “The Hate You Give” and “The Beginning of Everything” because they discuss empathy-driven topics.

These books reflect the interests of young people and mirror how YA books create demand. Brianne Johnson, an agent at Writers House, states that “Books with strong social justice themes are in high demand,” urging publishing companies to pursue empathy-driven books that explore all kinds of perspectives. Jill Grinberg an agent in Literary Management, for instance, asserts how we’re seeing more books published on sexual assault that are showing levels of success.

According to Pew Research, Generation Z is the most ethnically diverse generation in American history, 48% being nonwhites. Which is another reason why books like The Hate You Give have become so popular and why there are so many shifts in interests regarding what we read

I mean just because the Hunger Games craze has come to an end, doesn’t mean that Gen Z has stopped reading. It just means our interests have changed and dystopian fantasies aren’t as popular.

Sure we can sometimes see downfalls in book sales, like last February when YA books saw a drop of 26.1%.

However, Brent Taylor an agent with Triada US states that doesn’t mean people aren’t reading. It means that the market is overcrowded, which impacts on general sales. In his own words, the market is “overcrowded with some incredible books which makes it harder for some books to rise to the top or be discovered.” 

So as we can see reading is very much still alive, it’s simply adjusting.

Since we don’t see physical books the same way we used to in can sometimes be understood that Gen Z simply doesn’t read, but that is not the case. E-books have become a huge factor in Gen Z’s reading habits. E-books encourage even those around me who are not consistent readers to take some of the copious amounts of time they spend on their phone to read a book. It’s right in front of them and better yet it’s digital which is how we prefer to access information. 

According to Valerie Peterson, “The number of Young Adult e-books published has exponentially exploded”. Peterson also attests how much e-books have contributed to the growth in YA book sales. The National Library Trust survey also demonstrated that 52% of young adults prefer to read on-screen.

People have been criticizing youth since there was recorded history. Even Horace in the 1st century BC once said, “The beardless youth… does not foresee what is useful, squandering his money”. I mean the outcries on the dangers of the Internet are not too different from the ones during the invention of TV and game consoles. Not only does Gen Z read just like any other, but we read an abundance of things. We also have the privilege of always being able to have a book at hand. So let’s disprove this fallacy.

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