Part I INTEGRATED COURSE
Text A The Development of Reading Habits
Silent reading was an activity which was almost unknown to the learned in the early days of the history, while during the fifteenth century the term “reading” undoubtedly meant reading aloud. Only during the nineteenth century did silent reading become popular.
One should be careful, however, of supposing that silent reading came about simply because reading aloud is a distraction to others. Examination of reasons connected with the historical development of silent reading shows that it became the usual mode of reading for most adult reading tasks mainly because the tasks themselves changed in character.
The last century saw a gradual increase in literacy and thus in the number of readers. As readers increased, so the number of listeners dropped, and thus there was some reduction in the need to read aloud. As reading for the benefit of listeners grew less common, the popularity of reading became a private activity in such public places as libraries, trains and offices, where reading aloud would disturb other readers in a way.