A recent report released by the National Endowment for the Arts indicates that fewer Americans every year are bothering to read books, and those that do, read less well than a generation ago. The report, To Read or Not to Read: A Question of National Consequence, examined data on reading habits and comprehension skills, and the story conveyed in the data is principally one of decline. Young adults in particular show a declining interest in reading. In just 10 years, from 1992-2002, the percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds who read for pleasure dropped by 12%, down to just 52%. In 2005, only 35% of twelfth-graders were reading at or above a proficiency level, a rate of decline of 13% since 1992. The numbers for 35- to 44-year-olds fell by 11%. Even college graduates are reading less well. In 1992, 40% of those with a bachelor’s degree were judged by the Department of Education to read at or above a proficiency level. By 2003, that number had dropped to 31%, a 23% rate of decline in 11 years. And American families are spending less on books than at almost any other time in the past two decades.
The cold statistics confirm something that most readers know but have mostly been reluctant to declare as fact—books change lives for the better!
What books have you read this past year, are reading, or books you plan to read this year?