Friday, October 22, 2010

Why Don't More Adults Read?

I love books; love to write them and love to read them. And because I surround myself with people who enjoy the same, I found it surprising when I came across the following statistics from the book, THE ODDS What Are The Chances by Thomas J. Craughwell.
  • 14% of adults with a grade school education read literature
The ODDS - What are the Chances?So that got me thinking...why? Why don't more adults read when reading is a great way to learn and a great way to escape. And then I found these statistics that may help explain it, scary as they are.
Ok, here's the glincher:
  •  21 million Americans can't read at all, 45 million are marginally illiterate and one-fifth of high school graduates can't read their diplomas. (statistics listed by The Literacy Company)
Yowzer! So how do we change this? There's got to be a way. The statistics just leave me baffled.


Anonymous said...

I would like to read a bit more on this blog soon. BTW, rather nice design you have here, but what do you think about changing it from time to time?

Paul Callaghan said...

As a former High School English teacher I have seen similar figures bandied about regularly. Quite often these figures are released just before contract negotiations with teachers begin. My, what a coincidence!
Some of the things that do interest me are the methods of discovering the levels of literacy and the standards to which academics hold. For example, I have a degree in English Literature and I am a voracious reader, consuming several books each week, as well as emails, newspapers and of course your blog.Does that mean I am more suitably literate for the number crunchers? What about the teens I used to teach who would send and receive thousands of text (SMS) messages, social media posts and emails every month? They refuse to read books unless under threat of detention but are still highly literate people. I am always sceptical of these surveys and can honestly say that while I have met many people who don't like to read, I have met very few in Western countries who absolutely cannot. And those that couldn't were mostly in jail at some point. It's virtually impossible to function effectively in the West without at least some degree of literacy. The third world is another matter.

Michelle said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It really made me wonder when I read those statistics. Maybe my experiences in school were a bit sheltered, but I know that the kids around me could read and the teachers were passionate about ensuring everyone got the education and resources they needed to graduate and succeed after high school. Maybe that's why I was so struck by this. Of course motivation and willingness to apply oneself was a whole other factor. I know that not everyone has the same experience or resources, but the numbers were staggering. Perhaps, as you mentioned, it might be useful to find out how the numbers were determined to better understand them.