Final Word from Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A survey by Scio found that half of boys at Czech high schools have trouble getting through a single book in two months, while the same applies to one-fourth of the girls. This matches the results of the OECD's PISA study, which found that Czech schoolchildren are among the worst in the world in terms of reading for pleasure, along with such brainy developed countries as the U.S., Japan, Switzerland and the Netherlands. On the top end of the scale are Kazakhs, Albanians, Chinese and Thais. Not to worry, Scio says, because reading comic books and magazines also improves a child's reading skills, as does using the computer. Yes, of course, reading a magazine or the captions in a computer game helps develop technical reading and language skills, but reading literature plays the additional role of stimulating the brain to imagine and to invent. Downplaying or denying this is another major factor in the decline of Western civilization. Hats off to the OECD, but not to Scio, for recognizing the importance of reading for fun.[Czech Republic China Kazakhstan Thailand United States of America literacy]

Glossary of difficult words

Mass Effect 3 - one of the current top-selling computer games; 

brainy - having or showing intelligence; 

to downplay - to make something appear less important than it really is; 

hats off to - used to state one's admiration for someone who has done something praiseworthy.

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