Objectives: To provide a comprehensive analysis of reading patterns in the United States.
Key Findings: Americans read less often and for shorter amounts of time when compared with other age groups and with Americans of the past and that their reading skills worsen, especially among teenagers and young males. By contrast, the average reading score of 9-year-olds has improved. Among high school seniors, the average score has declined for virtually all levels of reading. Reading proficiency rates are stagnant or declining in adults of both genders and all education levels. Reading for pleasure correlates strongly with academic achievement. The study concludes that these declines in reading have serious civic, social, cultural, and economic implications. While advanced readers accrue personal, professional, and social advantages, deficient readers run higher risks of failure in all three areas. Nearly two-thirds of employers ranked reading comprehension "very important" for high school graduates. Yet 38% consider most high school graduates deficient in this basic skill. Good readers generally have more financially rewarding jobs, while less advanced readers report fewer opportunities for career growth. Good readers also play a crucial role in enriching our cultural and civic life. Literary readers are more likely than non-readers to engage in positive civic and individual activities, such as volunteering, attending sports or cultural events, and exercising.
Methods: Data was taken from a variety of large, nationally representative studies, including self-reported data on individual behavioral patterns and national reading test scores from the US Department of Education.
Place of Publication:
National Endowment for the Arts