To Read or Not to Read: A Question of National Consequence
National Endowment of the Arts
Reading for fun is on the decline (you, therefore, must be working), as are youth and adult reading proficiency rates. This new report from the good NEA draws on numerous sources to paint a dim picture of American literacy. (This is the second such study by Dana Gioia's group; the first is here.) Voluntary reading rates for teenagers and young adults are decreasing; only 5 percent of high school graduates are proficient readers, and the average American over 15 spends more than 140 minutes watching TV on weekdays versus 20 minutes reading. Yet employers still consider reading comprehension and writing skills very important, and strong readers, who typically attain higher education levels, are likelier to be employed and earn more money. The study also offers bleak numbers for college students, three-quarters of whom read four or fewer non-assigned books per year. Gioia and company cannot fully explain why Americans are reading less (although the report posits that the bevy of other entertainment options now available is detracting from books' overall appeal). The Wall Street Journal's Daniel Henninger offers some thoughts here. You can read the study here.
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