Phi Beta Cons

Literature at Risk

The percentages of young people who are readers of literature have greatly declined in the past twenty years, according to the recent NEA report, Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America, available here in both pdf and html formats. The study compared the percentages of “literary readers”–those who read even a minimal bit of literature on their own, not for work or school–in 1982 and 2002.
In the 18-24 age range, the share of literary readers fell from 59.8 percent in 1982  to 42.8 percent in 2002. In the 24-34 age group, the percentage went from 62.1 to  47.7 percent. In the 35-44 age group, it went from 59.7 to 46.6 percent. In general, younger people went from constituting the largest group of literary readers to the smallest. Do you think recent ”progressive” educational theories and pedagogies might have had something to do with this? 

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