Don't let the TV squeeze out your time with God's Word
In a survey by the charity Booktrust this month, it was ascertained that, in England, materially poor people were less likely to read books than their richer neighbours.
In essence, the nation was divided into two sectors: those who read weekly or daily, and those who preferred watching TV and DVDs.
The study found that the higher up the social ladder, the more chances that the person read. A high proportion of those lower down the social scale admitted that they never read.
The fact was borne out by 27 per cent of adults from the poorest socio-economic backgrounds admitting that they never read, compared with 13 per cent of respondents from the richer socio-economic backgrounds.
Those people in the higher socio-economic bracket will own twice as many books (376 books) on average compared to those from a lower socio-economic stratum (156 books). Most of those surveyed owned at least 50 books, with the average figure being approximately 200 books.
In addition, 83 per cent of adults from the higher socio-economic level indicated that reading improves their lives, compared with 72 per cent of those from the poorest group.
The report states: "More frequent book readers tend to live in areas of lower deprivation with fewer children living in poverty, while respondents who never read books tend to live in areas of higher deprivation and more children living in poverty."
In addition, younger people, men and those people with lower levels of qualification were less likely to read.
The report also highlighted that, overall, there were significant minorities of adults with negative attitudes towards reading, with 18 per cent responding that they never read physical books and 71 per cent stating that they never read e-books.
More than one-third of the respondents (38 per cent) admitted that they start a book but then get bored with it, whilst a similar number of people (35 per cent) stated that they did not have time to read.
With regard to modern technology, more than one-quarter of those interviewed would rather surf the internet and use social media than read, a figure that rose to 56 per cent in those aged 18 to 30 years.
Seventy-six per cent of all adult respondents agreed that reading improves their lives, while 49 per cent enjoyed reading very much.
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Viv Baird, the chief executive of Booktrust, commented: "This research indicates that frequent readers are more likely to be satisfied with life, happier and more successful in their professional lives.
"But there is a worrying cultural divide linked to deprivation. There will never be a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to social mobility, but reading plays an important one – more action is needed to support families."
This all makes for worrying reading because there is one book we all need to – the Bible, whether in hard copy or electronically.
We are reminded in one of the psalms extolling God's Word: "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." (Psalm 119:11)
It is beneficial to read novels, stories, plays, poems, but especially God's story, the story of God's creation and the history that He controls.
By following the example of Psalm 119:11, we will be more satisfied with life as we will see it from God's perspective.
We will learn from the saints who have gone before, and the writings of current authors on issues that affect us today.
Jesus reminded us (John 14: 26): "But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of all I have said to you."
We cannot be reminded of what we have not read. It has been said, rightly, that a Bible that is falling apart normally belongs to someone who is not.
The report is not advocating that we do not watch television, but that we use our time wisely – a call that we all, regardless of our place on the social ladder, need to heed.