Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Thursday Thirteen 146: Reading Stats

Since March is National Reading Month, how about a few statistics on reading and literacy. Some of these facts are a bit scary, and some may surprise you.

* 46% of American adults cannot understand the label on their prescription medicine.

* 50 percent of American adults are unable to read an eighth grade level book.

* More than 20 percent of adults read at or below a fifth-grade level - far below the level needed to earn a living wage.

* Forty-four percent of American 4th grade students cannot read fluently, even when they read grade-level stories aloud under supportive testing conditions.

* More than three out of four of those on welfare, 85% of unwed mothers and 68% of those arrested are illiterate. About three in five of America's prison inmates are illiterate.

* It is estimated that the cost of illiteracy to business and the taxpayer is $20 billion per year.

* 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.

* Babies as young as 9 months have the ability to read. This is a natural and essential part of development. In 1999, only 53 percent of children aged 3 to 5 were read to daily by a family member. Children in families with incomes below the poverty line are less likely to be read aloud to everyday than are children in families with incomes at or above the poverty line.

* Numerous infant studies prove that the earlier a child learns to read, the better they perform in school and later in life.

* Children who have not developed some basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are 3 to 4 times more likely to drop out in later years. Disadvantaged students in the first grade have a vocabulary that is approximately half that of an advantaged student (2,900 and 5,800 respectively).

* 21 million Americans can't read at all, 45 million are marginally illiterate and one-fifth of high school graduates can't read their diplomas.

* 15 percent of the population has specific reading disorders. Of these 15 percent as many as 1/3 may show change in the brain structure. Dyslexia affects one out of every five children - ten million in America alone.

* Over 50% of NASA employees are dyslexic. They are deliberately sought after because they have superb problem solving skills and excellent 3D and spatial awareness.

Find more facts here.

(Please leave your link if this is your first visit!)

Adelle Laudan * Mary Quast * Tracie * Alice Audrey
Alexia Reed * Stephanie Adkins * Colleen * Shelley Munro
Hazel * Melissa Mashburn * Jennifer McKenzie * Desi
Elise Logan * Harriet * Sophia Parkwood * Janice Seagraves
Sasha Devlin * Tatiana Caldwell * Jeanne St James * Paige Tyler
Jehara * Inez * Megan Rose * A. Catherine Noon * Ms Menozzi

More Thursday Thirteen participants


Tracie said... a book lover it is just heartbreaking to look at these statistics.

Adelle Laudan said...

The statistics on the number of people who can't read is so sad. I can't imagine it not being a big part of my life.
Happy T !3!

Mary Quast said...

I participated in a Literacy Festival with several other local authors last weekend. It was not only fun, but it was great to see families that read together. I was proud to be a part of something so big that encourages reading. Happy T13!

Heather said...

Tracie: Isn't is heartbreaking? Very sad indeed...

Adelle: I can't imagine a life without books or reading, either. I remember carrying armloads of books home on a weekly basis in elementary school.

Alice Audrey said...

The whole time I tried to read to my babies, they were crawling around. Kids have their own priorities.

Heather said...

Mary: It's too bad more people don't realize the importance of reading together as friends or a family. My sister and BIL signed my 5-yr-old niece up for the Disney book club before she was born, and read to her nightly. She has the vocabulary of a 7-yr-old. *VBG*

Heather said...

Alice: That is an excellent point--some kids are more active than others and getting them to sit still for 5 to 10 minutes while you read to them can be difficult. I think it's impiortant that parents try, though. While bedtime may work best for some kids, first thing in the morning may work better for others. Turning off the TV and letting them see you read helps, I think.

Shelley Munro said...

Wow, those stats are scary. Obviously, something needs to change in the US.

Hazel said...

These stats are sad. The dyslexia info is interesting though. And as early as 9 months in babies! I'm keeping that in mind.

Melissa Mashburn said...

That was a very informative list. Those statistics are rather sad thought.

Jennifer Leeland said...

One of the hardest things about having a kid with ADD is he hasn't learned to read at his level.
I read to him every night and always have since he was little. He loves being read to, but struggles to read.
That statistic about NASA was so cool! I didn't know that.

colleen said...

That's kind of shocking. I worry about all the text talk and what that is doing to language. We have already devolved to a laziness as compared to how our ancestors spoke.

I didn't know I used suggested twice! Kind of funny in that context. Thanks for noticing and telling me.

Americanising Desi said...

you have thoroughly shocked me

Upcoming and Awaited

Elise Logan said...

That's so discouraging. *sigh*

Here's hoping we can improve that.

I am Harriet said...

I'm not surprised about many of those.

Have a great Thursday!

Anonymous said...

Very interesting facts. Reading is such a wonderful thing, it's sad to think there are so many people out there that can't enjoy it to its fullest. Really gets you thinking. Happy Thursday!

Heather said...

Shelley: Changes are definitely needed here, and this is one of the reasons it always pisses me off to hear of more cuts being made in education. You have a choice - either pay for additional schools and much-needed special programs...or you pay for more prisons further down the line. I'd rather pay for the schools, especially at the all-important elementary level.

Hazel: Very sad indeed! I thought the 9 months stat interesting, too.

Melissa: Thank you. I think we really need to educate more people (esp new parents and politicians) on these stats.

Jennifer: ADD, ADHD and Dyslexia definitely make lerning more challenging. Your son is lucky to have parents who understand and care about his learning!

Heather said...

Colleen: Text talk irritates me for the same reason. It seems quite a detriment to education, IMO. I also thought your double use of suggested funny considering the point being illustrated. Glad you took it in the way it was intended! :)

Desi: If only we could successfully shock parents and politicians with these stats! Maybe schools would then get the funding needed.

Elise: Discouraging is a good word for it. And so sad, considering the US is one of the wealthiest countries in the world.

Stephanie Adkins said...

Wow ... those are sad. I can't imagine not being able to read. :( Happy Thursday. *Hugs*

Heather said...

Harriet: Sadly, many of the statistics I was reading did not surprise me, either. Sadeened, yes. Surprise, no.

Sophia: It is sad to think how many struggle with basic reading skills, and can't/don't enjoy reading. Maybe even sadder is those who can read and don't. I couldn't imagine a life without books.

Heather said...

Stephanie: I couldn't imagien not being able to read, either. Books have been an important part of my life as long as I can remember!

Paige Tyler said...

Yikes to some of those!


My TT is at

jehara said...

Wow. I can't imagine not being able to read. I had no idea the numbers were so high.
That's pretty cool about NASA, though.

Heather said...

Paige: Yikes, indeed!

Jehara: I thought the NASA stat interesting as well.

Inez Kelley said...

How sad.

Tatiana Caldwell said...

Yikes at these stats. FIFTY percent can't read an 8th grade level book? Quite disturbing.

Megan Rose said...

I work in a school and have to agree that the figures are quite shocking. An amazing number of children leave primary education with very poor reading skills.Hopefully we can change things, a little at a time. Great list.

My blog is at

A. Catherine Noon said...

Wow. Sobering.

Ms Menozzi said...

Wow. I simply can't imagine a life without reading. How do those people - those who *choose* not to read, that is - stand it???

I read my own little books from a very early age. One of my first memories is of my father using the Sunday comics to teach me how to read. I was too impatient for someone else to read to me. LOL!

Happy TT!

Sasha Devlin said...

These stats are so sad. Some of my earliest memories are being read to.

Heather said...

Inez: Beyond sad!

Tatiana: Yup...50 percent. I'd say that is quite disturbing.

Megan: A little change is better than no change. More certainly needs to be done during those early formative years.

Catherine: Incredibly sobering!

Ms M: Sounds like your father was a wodnerful man!

Sasha: I have no memories of being read to, but remember books being a part of my life very early on. And while my parents may or may not have read to us, they were readers themselves so at least served as role models in that capacity.

happily retired gal said...

As a life-long reader I find these stats disturbing ... but I love the last one because it reminds me that being 'different' isn't necessarily a liability ;-)
Happy belated T-13! Thanks for sharing.
Hugs and blessings,

Heather said...

HRG: At least there was one positive in all those stats, eh? Talk about finding a strength in one's weekaness! *g*