The most recent edition of the National Endowment for the Arts study on reading habits in America, To Read or Not to Read, (100pg PDF) will likely cause a renewed epidemic of brow furrowing in publishing circles (and let’s face it, some of those brows already look like William H. Macy during root canal). Some highlights (or lowlights):
- less than 1/3 of 13-year-olds are daily readers
- nearly half of young people 18-24 do not read books for pleasure;
- attending college no longer guarantees a tie to reading for pleasure. Literary readers among college graduates has slipped from 82% in 1982 to 67% in 2002.
- multitasking is on the rise. 58% of high school students use at least one other media while reading most/some of the time (28% most of the time). 20% of reading time is shared by TV, IM, gaming, email, or surfing
It’s a fascinating study—a deep look at household spending on books, school grades correlated to number of books in the home, gender and reading, and reading correlated to civic involvement like volunteering, voting, and prison terms. If you are interested in the role that the printed word plays in the world, it is definitely worth a read.