Guarded Optimism for the Future of Reading

Naturally, as an English professor, I’ve got a vested interest in the future of reading. But you can’t have an intellectually healthy society without literacy. I had a high school physics teacher — Admiral Peebles
(a retired nuclear submarine expert) who praised literacy as a core
skill. “Give me students who can read and write,” he said, “and I can
teach them math and science.”

A recent government publicized some good news about the future of reading. In an apparent reversal of a downward trend, in 2008 more 18-24-year-olds have reported reading literature than an earlier study had reported in 2002.

ReadingReport.pngReading on the Rise: A New Chapter in American LIteracy (NEA, 2009)

The report’s cheerful tone may be a bit misleading, since there’s also bad news:

The percentage of American adults who report reading any book
not required for work or school during the previous year is still
declining. It fell from 56.6 percent in 2002 to 54.3 percent in 2008.– Bob Thompson, Washington Post