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|||| Consider this 2005 report from Lois Romano in the Washington Post: "Only 41 percent of graduate students tested in 2003 could be classified as 'proficient' in prose -- reading and understanding information in short texts -- down 10 percentage points since 1992. Of college graduates, only 31 percent were classified as proficient -- compared with 40 percent in 1992."
Or this 2004 report from the NEA: "A Survey of Literary Reading in America reports drops in all groups studied, with the steepest rate of decline - 28 percent - occurring in the youngest age groups. The study also documents an overall decline of 10 percentage points in literary readers from 1982 to 2002, representing a loss of 20 million potential readers. The rate of decline is increasing and, according to the survey, has nearly tripled in the last decade. . .
"Literary reading declined among whites, African Americans and Hispanics. . . By age, the three youngest groups saw the steepest drops, but literary reading declined among all age groups. The rate of decline for the youngest adults, those aged 18 to 24, was 55 percent greater than that of the total adult population. . .
"Reading also affects lifestyle, the study shows. Literary readers are much more likely to be involved in cultural, sports and volunteer activities than are non-readers. For example, literary readers are nearly three times as likely to attend a performing arts event, almost four times as likely to visit an art museum, more than two-and-a-half times as likely to do volunteer or charity work, and over one-and-a-half times as likely to attend or participate in sports activities. People who read more books tend to have the highest level of participation in other activities."
The New English Review adds:
"Carol Iannone, citing a National Endowment for the Arts survey, reports 'For the first time in modern history less than half the adult population of the United States had read even a bit of poetry, fiction or drama in the entire year. While in 1982, almost 57 percent of Americans were literary readers' - those who read literature on their own, not for school or work - that percentage had shrunk to less than 47 percent in 2002.'" ||||