Wednesday, August 22, 2007

One in Four! What's Happened to all the Readers?

I spent part of the morning waiting at the car dealer for a minor recall repair to be done (glamorous, I know!) and read an article about the lack of reading in America. I was simply horrified. According to the reporter, one in four (that's 25%) of adult Americans had not read one single book all year. This survey seems to include religious readings, as well as fiction and nonfiction choices. I knew it was bad, but I had no idea. 1 in 4!

No wonder our children aren't reading. That could mean that 25% (or more) of kids have no role model for reading. This survey didn't seem to care about what language was read either. 1 in 4!

It really makes me wonder if our national illiteracy rate is truly that high. As a reading educator, that saddens me. I can't imagine not enjoying at least one book in a whole year. With all the advances in audio books on CD, through public libraries, and in new formats like MP3, it seems that books are more accessible now than they have ever been.

I know, in this case, I'm probably preaching to the choir, but I was really shocked by the statistic. What do you think? Is this really accurate in modern America?


John Mutford said...

It is sad. Books are great and there's no need for me to get into all the reasons why. But, at least it doesn't necessarily mean anything about the amount of reading that actually goes on. One of the things blamed in the article was the internet. It's hard to be on the internet without reading! So I guess the issue comes down to quality, not quantity. It may not reflect on your national illiteracy rate at all, perhaps even more people than ever are reading now, just what they're reading may have changed.

BookGal said...

John - Interesting point. Maybe research needs to be done on the amount of reading done on the Internet. Maybe I have a research idea if I ever pursue another degree.

Cath said...

Well, I'm in the UK so it's hard to comment on the US but things are not much better over here. One recent statistic for the SW of England, where I live, was that only 30% of parents ever read to, or with, their children. What a terrible shame that is! My eldest daughter helps with reading at our grandaughter's school and her observations would support that very sad statistic. I can only say that 70% of parents have no idea what they're missing out on. I suppose they just don't realise that good reading is not just to do with reading and English as subjects in the classroom, it reflects right across the whole spectrum of subjects. If you can't read properly, you're lost.

BookGal said...

Cath - I can't imagine not reading to kids. I read to my daughter as an infant and insist that the parents in my classroom read to their kids ten minutes a day. 30% ... what a shame! I hope that doesn't mean the number will get smaller with the next generation, but it might.

cj said...

It's one of the saddest statistics I've seen in recent days.

When I mention reading to the students who work for us, they look at me like I've lost my mind. Reading is something the HAVE to do, not that they WANT to do. We need to change that.


Kristy said...

It is amazing, isn't it? You'd think more people would read something. It wouldn't have to be a novel. Of course, the sample didn't seem very big to me.

Presbyterian Gal said...

I am also shocked. This is awful.

And at the same time explains why a family friend who works in motion pictures in special effects, had to spend more than 24 hours straight on a recent blockbuster film digitally correcting spelling errors on a filmed list because major motion picture art directors no longer know how to spell.

Sad, sad, sad. And I wonder if our kids, who will be able to read and spell and communicate, will end up runnin' the place. Or considered superfluous and obsolete.

(P.S. I'm linking to this post)

BookGal said...

cj - I agree ... there's too much media and too little reading.

Kristy - I wonder if someone has sampled a larger population. I'll bet it's still true - sad but true.

Pres - Thanks for the link. I have to hope that reading, spelling, and communicating will always matter!

Lorna (see through faith) said...

Just think, without Harry Potter, the stats would be even more depressing.

Love HP or hate it - it's got kids in Europe reading again -and their parents. And whatever you think of the plot -the early books at least - were exceptionally well written IMHO.

I am a book worm. I am always reading something. My TS (age 17) is reading a book right now (Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy) for school (in Finnish) but rented the DVD with his friends so they could work out the plot (sigh) ... they were surprised when I told them that before this was a book it was a RADIO series in the UK (80s I think) ... if their teacher had told them that ... it would have helped them understand how the book /plot was built up.

Cathy said...

Ok, Presbyterian Gal linked to your web site and this is my kind of blog. Glad I found you. Are you on

I have not read the rest of your blog. Does your school have accelerated reader?

SpookyRach said...

Wow. I can't imagine not reading. Something, anything! How do all these people survive all the waiting they have to do? Is it physically possible to sit in a doctor's office without a book in hand???

Mary Beth said...

I think maybe I read all the books that those other folks don't.

:) Glad to meetcha!

Serena said...

PresbyGal sent me to visit.

I was thinking the same thing Lorna referenced .. think how bad the numbers were before HP.

And, before the printing press noone got to read books ... before the internet books had less competition. I think there will always be reader-a-holics (like us), people who read only what they have to, and non-readers. But, we're the lucky, blessed ones.

Callista said...

I find it appaling too. I posted about it on my blog too yesterday.

BookGal said...

Lorna - It seemed like everyone I saw this summer had Harry Potter in their hands.

Cathy - Not on goodreads but I'll check it out. I've been lobbying my school for AR for three years now. There's a new head honcho so maybe this is my year!

Spooky - Maybe that's why everyone seems to be text messaging.

Mary Bath - Thanks for visiting.

Serena - You're right ... we are lucky and blessed. I'm still shocked that the stats included the Bible. I guess people don't need spiritual nourishment either. Sigh!

Callista - I'll bet it's on a bunch of blogs. I'll come check it out!