NEA study: all types of reading in decline

Remember the National Endowment for the Arts study on reading in 2004, the one that noted a sharp decline in literary reading? One of the implicit causes was that computer use has distracted people from reading, so a natural response in the blogosphere was that the study was flawed for only looking at literary reading (novels) rather than non-fiction, and all of the kinds of reading people do on their computers and throughout the day.

Well, the NEA has just released a follow up study that finds that the decline in reading applies to all types of reading, not just literary reading, and that it is worse than they had thought.

“The new NEA study is the first to bring together reliable, nationally representative data, including everything the federal government knows about reading,” said NEA Chairman Dana Gioia. “This study shows the startling declines, in how much and how well Americans read, that are adversely affecting this country’s culture, economy, and civic life as well as our children’s educational achievement.”

I am curious about something… Maybe some of my Canadian readers can answer… Is Canada seeing the same problem? When I think about Canada versus the U.S., I tend to think that Canada is where the future lies. Natural resources, education, population size, global warming, a more civilized culture, smarter policies, better international relations, better government spending priorities… It all seems to add up to a brighter future north of the border. So I’m wondering if the decline in reading is happening in Canada as well as in the United States? I can imagine that it is or that it is not. On the one hand, it seems related to global trends – the speeding up of everything in life. On the other hand, I can imagine it related to the unique problems we have in the U.S…..

2 comments on “NEA study: all types of reading in decline

  1. My issue with the 2004 study was not that it didn’t include online reading: it was that it didn’t include nonfiction at all. While one could make an argument that reading The Idiot’s Guide to Whatever is not reading, I find it hard to dismiss those consuming the work of John McPhee, Gretel Ehrlich, and Annie Dillard (not to mention Emerson, Thoreau, Samuel Johnson, etc., etc.) as “not reading.”

    It sounds as though this study may be more inclusive in its parameters, which is a good thing, even if the results aren’t good.

Comments are closed.