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Less Reading in the United States

0711Reading.jpgThe National Endowment for the Arts released this week a report on reading habits in the United States. Their major finding is that older teenagers and adults are reading less, and less well. The report is composed mostly of national studies by the Department of Education, but uses several other third-party surveys and reports to bulk up their observations.

Some Notable Points
  • Among 17-year-olds, the percent who read for fun at least once a week dropped from 64% in 1984 to 53% in 1999 and to 52% in 2004. The percent who never or hardly ever read for fun doubled from 9% in 1984 to 19% in 2004. Children ages 9 and 13 were also polled. Their numbers stayed approximately the same.
  • The percent of 12th-graders reading at or above the basic level dropped from 80% in 1992 to 73% in 2005.
  • In 2003, half of adults who read below the basic reading level had not completed high school and 45% were not employed either full- or part-time.
  • On average in 2006, 15- to 24-year-olds read for 7 minutes per day during the week and for 10 minutes on weekends.
  • The percentage of adults able to read at the basic and intermediate levels remained about the same overall. Fewer college graduates were proficient at reading in 2003 than in 1992.

To Read or Not To Read: A Question of National Consequence
Study Links Drop in Test Scores to a Decline in Time Spent Reading (New York Times)


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