Is teaching reading, and more particularly literature, a losing prospect? There are days when I feel this way. Yesterday I took an anonymous poll and found that 1/3 of my College in the High School students were behind in the current reading and 1/4 admitted not finishing at least one of the books read in the class.
Is something wrong when even the highest level students aren’t finishing their reading assignments? Are they too busy with other activities? Do they put the assignments involving “just reading” last on the priority lists? Is it the literature taught (though 85% of the students in my classes said the books we have read were at least “interesting or enjoyable”? Here are some reading statistics to consider.
- 46% of American adults cannot understand the label on their prescription medicine.
- It is estimated that as many as 15 percent of American students may be dyslexic.
- 50 percent of American adults are unable to read an eighth grade level book.
- There are almost half a million words in our English Language – the largest language on earth, incidentally – but a third of all our writing is made up of only twenty-two words.
- In a class of 20 students, few if any teachers can find even 5 minutes of time in a day to devote to reading with each student.
- Out-of-school reading habits of students has shown that even 15 minutes a day of independent reading can expose students to more than a million words of text in a year.
- The average reader spends about 1/6th of the time they spend reading actually rereading words.
- When the State of Arizona projects how many prison beds it will need, it factors in the number of kids who read well in fourth grade.
Those are some sobering stats! How about these I got through this site’s search function:
- 1/3 of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.
- 42 percent of college graduates never read another book after college.
- 80 percent of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year.
- 70 percent of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.
- 57 percent of new books are not read to completion.