Startling Statistics!

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1003574_10151923002887909_563126236_nWith the new year coming up, I thought it timely to share some statistics relating to reading that have been floating around the internet. As an educator, I am aware that students are less inclined to read for pleasure than they were when I was in school, but some of these numbers startled me.

According to this chart, 33% of high school graduates never read another book the rest of their lives and nearly half of college graduates never read another book after receiving their diploma. Why is this? Is it because of education or despite education that former students lose interest in reading after completing their secondary and postsecondary educations?

The statistic that shocked me the most was that 80% of US families did not buy or read a book last year? As an avid reader who burns through 10 to 15 books a year, this was really disturbing. Even during my busiest years when I only manage to read maybe a few books I at least purchased new books for future reading. I have to ask, what’s going on?

As a writer, these statistics are very concerning. What am I writing for? Surely, all of my hard work will not result in my novel sitting alone on a dusty book shelf or worse, never being read. Are the 20% of Americans able to sustain the writers market?

What do these statistics mean to writers? To readers? To educators? Do they mean anything at all? What are your thoughts?

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12 thoughts on “Startling Statistics!

  1. I’m concerned. Of course, is the 80% statistic regarding purchasing books factoring in e-books or just traditional print? Regardless, I think there is a cultural shift. People may be favoring social media sites over books for entertainment, which would certainly justify these stats. I don’t want to live in a world where people don’t read.

  2. 80%? That’s frightening. I wonder how many of those have used the library. Hopefully those percentages are much higher. But if that number includes both those who didn’t purchase a book or read one, it’s not likely.

  3. Wow! Those are frightening statistics if they’re accurate. Seems strange to me; we have more books than we can fit on our bookshelves and probably purchase 15-20 a piece each year! I’ve also heard that reading helps you retain your memory as you age.

    I hope the world is still full of people who love to read. They’re a great source of information, and I would argue they teach you critical thinking skills as well.

    • I have been seeing these statistics all over, but tracking the original source has been a bit of a pain. I’m just throwing them out for thought. As an educator, I am not surprised that reading for pleasure is on the decrease. I often hear youth say “I avoid reading when I can” and it’s no wonder with heroes like Kanye West saying “I’m a proud non-reader” how can we expect kids to positively view reading?

      I think parents and schools are going to have to make reading fun again for kids, otherwise we are going to lose what has been a long-honored past-time and study–reading.

  4. Wow… those are some pretty scary stats. When you put them next to the reality of trying to be a successful writer… even scarier. I don’t know what it is about the educational system that fails to teach a love of reading… I was a complete book nerd growing up– always carried the book I was reading in front of my face with one just behind it for when I finished the first– but I hated reading anything that was required. More often than not, I wouldn’t. I’d just fake my way through. So the fact that other kids were doing the same but not reading anything else on the side is pretty scary. I have no idea how we change this :-/

    • I agree. Kind of scary if people are only reading–or fake reading–what they are told to read. I think students are hating on reading because it’s homework. Somehow parents and schools need to find fun ways to encourage reading.

      My library did a summer reading program where you got rewarded for reading. I think that helped a lot. I read and then got a free book and also ice cream and other coupons. It did not hurt.

      • Oh yes, I remember doing similar sort of reading programs when I was little… which was good because I was one of the last kids in my class to ever learn! I hated it. But then… something clicked. Ah, magic 🙂

  5. summer reading is the best. I think school gets a lot of blame, but teachers don’t have a good foundation. Parents need to read to their kids and make it fun. I read to my child every night. Now he isn’t happy unless he gets two or three stories a night. He has to settle for one because my eyes get tired and I have writing to do. Teachers can help though. They don’t always get to choose the curriculum, but they can design creative/fun study plans around books or just help kids find a book they would like. I had a teacher who kept magazines in her classroom because she wanted her students to read something, even just a magazine.

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