There's something about the concentration and focus engaged when a reader is 'lost' in the pages of a book that can't be easily duplicated. Unless a fire alarm goes off, events nearby can swirl about unnoticed. I have a theory--not easily proved--that many skills and abilities are developed and nurtured in the process of reading. The closest thing I can compare it to is practising and playing an instrument. I believe that mental pathways, neurological connections and basic life skills are positively affected and improved through these practises.
But attributing these qualities to reading makes it sound like something you do because it is good for you in the way that taking a spoonful of pungent cod liver oil used to be when administered to children. This post repeats what has been stated previously: Children and teens are reading less and with decreased proficiency. The usual suspects--video games, texting and television--are cited as the causes in the article. Some of the comments were especially interesting though and gave me pause:
"Reading requires effort and imagination. In today's "if it's not done in 3.5 seconds, it's stupid" world, the great majority of people, not just children, don't have the attention span to read a paragraph, let alone a book. When you're immersed in the 140-character world of Twitter and text messages, Dickens is largely incomprehensible. That's an extreme example, but you get the point."
What is the solution?