Thursday, January 22, 2009

Reading Rise

In this recent post, I converged on a rather glum picture of the future where readers (as opposed to screen viewers) were rare and valued. An article in this week's The Economist takes up that debate, quoting statistics from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) that indicate that reading is actually on the rise, with dramatic improvements in some quarters.

The research article from the NEA is "Reading on the Rise" (pdf). Quoting from The Economist:
As the NEA's research director, Sunil Iyengar, points out, almost every demographic and ethnic group seems to be reading more.
The question posed is whether an adult has read a novel, short story, poem, or play in the last 12 months. African-Americans were up 15% from 2002, and Hispanics 20%. Young men (18-24) responded positively 24% more often in 2008 than in 2002.

Still negative is the nation's illiteracy rate; it still stands at 21%. The Economist notes that this is one of the worst percentages among developed nations.

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