People Are (Sort of) Reading More!

By Katie Ash — January 12, 2009 1 min read
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One of the first entries I ever wrote for Motivation Matters was about a report that said students, and people in general, were reading less. As I mentioned in that post, as a book lover and avid reader, that news was disheartening and—quite frankly—a little frightening.

It’s been over a year since I wrote that post, and today a new report (PDF), which surveyed about 18,000 adults 18 and older, was released by the same organization—The National Endowment for the Arts—that says for the first time in 25 years, more people are reading literature. The overall rate of reading grew 7 percent, with the biggest gains in the 18-24 age group. Compared with statistics from 2002, members of that age group increased reading rates by 9 percent. The researchers attribute this growth to a renewed push for reading in schools.

However, I should point out that although more people report reading literature, the overall rates of people reading still fall short of the rates reported the first time the survey was done in 1982. Then, 57 percent of adults reported reading literature, while only 50 percent of adults today report reading literature in the past year. Sixty percent of the 18-24 age group reported reading in 1982 compared to 52 percent surveyed in 2008.

So while the rates are on the rise for the first time since the survey was started, those rates are still well below the data collected 26 years ago. But perhaps I shouldn’t be so discouraged. The rates are going up, and that’s a good thing.

There’s plenty of information here to think about if you’re a literature geek like me—such as how many people are reading fiction vs. poetry and plays. Also, there are statistics about how many people are reading articles, blogs, and information online. Interesting stuff that’s worth checking out.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Motivation Matters blog.