America’s Literacy Rate: Surprising Statistics

While conducting some research on literacy levels in the US, I came across some surprising statistics. Whether you blame it on the TV, lack of time, or lack of energy, it seems there are fewer and fewer people reading these days. This is a problem, one that not only affects our imaginations and recreations, but our productivity and economy as well.

  • In 2002, the US Department of education showed that 21% to 23% of adult Americans were not “able to locate information in text,” could not “make low-level inferences using printed materials,” and were unable to “integrate easily identifiable pieces of information.”
  • The same study showed that 41% to 44% of U.S. adults in the lowest level on the literacy scale are living in poverty.
  • There have been no improvements in literacy rates since 1993.
  • In 2008, according to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, only 15% of adults could read and comprehend at the highest level.

The sad thing is that, while America has problems with people not being able to read in the first place, those who can read often choose not to.

  • A National Endowment for the Arts report titled “Reading at Risk” found that only 57% of American adults had read a book in 2002.
  • According to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll, 1 in 4 adults have not read any books at all in the past year. Of those that did, men were the least avid readers.
  • A Gallup poll in 2005 showed that people started (started mind you, not finished) only 5 books a year, down from 10 in 1999. In just 6 years, people were reading 50% less than they before, and it’s been an additional 6 years since those statistics were published.

We think something needs to change. Our job at iUMBC is to make great books accessible to every man.  See our Book Lists for Men to get some great ideas, and start reading today!

About zach

Staring out across the hazy mountain range on his latest summitting of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Zach saw with a clearness he had not yet seen. "People should tremble at the very sound of my name", he thought. And it was so. "I should master the manly arts of the world, such as barehanded hunting and blacksmithing". And it was so. "People should call me Z$". And it was so.

Currently Reading

-The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
-The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
-Twitter for Good by Claire Diaz Ortiz


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  1. […] they read the world around them and they don’t just take their knowledge from books. This blog laments the poor literacy rates in the US. I think the most important thing teachers and future […]

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