Magazine article Information Today

Reading Gains Momentum

Magazine article Information Today

Reading Gains Momentum

Article excerpt

Librarians and publishers take note: After 26 years of decline, the U.S. reading rate is finally on the rise, according to a new report from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

The "Reading on the Rise" report states that the overall adult literary reading rate increased from 46.7% in 2002 to 50.2% in 2008, the first time an uptick has been registered since the survey began in 1982. The rise is the result of a national effort among parents, teachers, librarians, and civic leaders to encourage reading, according to NEA chairman Dana Gioia.

"Reading became a higher priority in families, schools, and communities," he says in the report. "Thousands of programs, large and small, were created or significantly enhanced to address the challenge."

These efforts are reflected in the literary reading numbers of 18- to 24-year-olds, the demographic in which reading rose most rapidly. In 2002, young adults who read literature--defined as novels, short stories, poems, or plays by the report--dropped to 42.8%, down 20% from the previous survey in 1992. In 2008, that figure rose to 51.7%, an increase of 21% that represents an additional 3.4 million readers.


Fiction was the most popular form of literature in 2008, with 47% of all adults reporting that they read a novel or short story, an increase of 4% from 2002, according to the report. Meanwhile, poetry and drama reading both declined 31% and 28%, respectively, to 8.3% and 2.6% of adult readers. And 64.2% of poetry and drama readers said they also read fiction, cementing it as 2008's dominant literary genre. …

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