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Literacy Reading in Decline

f451art.jpgIn his book Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury describes a society where books are banned and readers are shunned. However, an underground exists where the classics are memorized and live on within individuals. Parallels can be made between today’s world. Despite what appears to be a publishing bonanza, and no governement denying our right to read, book reading is declining.

According to Reading At Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America, a 2004 report for the National Endowment for the Arts, the first of the ten findings is “The percentage of adult Americans reading literature has dropped dramatically over the past 20 years.” Following are three specific statistics of that finding:

  • litdeclinefinding1.jpgLess than half of the adult American population now reads literature.
  • The 10 percentage point decline in literary reading represents a loss of 20 million potential readers.
  • Only the strong growth in overall U.S. population of nearly 40 million adults from 1982 to 2002 allowed the actual number of readers to remain flat at 96 million.

Although not very surprising, this is sad to witness. Literature adds so much to the quality of life and culture. My aim in this miniblog is to discuss books, the importance of reading, and the powerful contribution reading can make to the quality of our lives. I will provide more of this study in the coming posts.

Knowledge of a situation is a first step toward taking action to improve it. My hope is that the celebration of books and reading and the discussions on this blog can, in a small way, help to reverse the scary trend of the decline of literacy reading in the United States.

The entire Reading At Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America report is available for download at www.arts.endow.gov/pub/readingatrisk.pdf.

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