Sunday, August 24, 2008

Read 'em and DON'T weep

I read something kinda scary today. Not that I wasn't aware we had a problem, but these stats are CRAZY! (source:, as quoted by Michael R. Ash in an online book review):

"It's been said that America is a nation of non-readers. We are, by and large, literate, but we are often uninformed and tend to spend less time reading than watching TV or surfing the internet. 

"According to a study by the Jenkins Group:
58% of the US adult population never reads another book after high school
42% of college graduates never read another book after college. 
80% of US families did not buy or read a book last year. 
70% of US adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years. 
57% of new books are not read to completion.

"When we do read, we often choose pop magazines or novels over nonfiction. Most Americans are severely uninformed in regards to significant historical issues, current events, or scientific facts. According to a 2003 Gallup poll, nearly a third of Americans were unable to name the current US vice president, Dick Cheney. According to Carl Sagan, nearly half of American adults don't know that the Earth goes around the sun and that it takes a year to do so. One-third of US teens were unable to associate Hitler with Germany. 

And we have an election coming up???...(to say nothing of lives to live in an increasingly troubled world). This situation is appalling, and we need to do something about it. Beyond reading ourselves and encouraging our children to read, we need to get more involved in the community to ensure that reading statistics improve rather than worsen in years to come. We also need to figure out what is wrong with our educational system when grown people are unaware that the earth revolves around the sun and cannot associate Hitler with Germany. This is frightening. If we forget the lessons of Nazi Germany (and other historical lessons), how can we expect to go forward and continue as a free nation? Is anyone else as disturbed (and surprised!) by this information as I am?

One thing's for sure. Action is definitely better than mere reaction when faced with statistics like these. I'm going to begin with letters to my governor, senators, and congressmen. We've got to figure out what's broken in our educational system, and throwing money at the problem is not enough. Serious changes need to be made at the federal and state level, as well as the community and family level. It's up to us to get the job done, so let's get out there and make some noise! The future success and safety of our country depends on it.


Kristin said...

Can those stats really be true? That's scary! But a little less surprising when a young-adult book on vampires is all the rage. I even heard someone saying it was their favorite book. Which leads me to my next question, if that is the best book they've ever read, have they ever read any other books?

Sue said...

I checked the reference online, Kristin, and the stats are actually true. I knew that newspaper-reading was dying out, but I had no idea reading in general was. It's really sad.

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