Important Facts & Statistics about Reading

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  • Only one-third of all students entering high school are proficient in reading -- only about 15 percent of African American students, and 17 percent of Hispanic students. (NAEP Reading_2009)
  • Two thirds of eighth graders do not read at the "proficient" level. (NAEP Reading_2009)
  • There is a significant economic reading gap for students: only 16 percent of students eligible for "free or reduced lunch" programs are proficient in reading, compared to 42 percent who are not eligible. (NAEP Reading_2009)
  • Boys lag behind girls in reading proficiency in all 50 states -- in some states by as many as 10 percentage points. (Center for Education Policy)
  • Between 1971 and 2004, the NAEP scores of 12th-graders showed no improvement. Further, the 2005 scores of 12th-graders were generally lower than their counterparts in 1992. (Alliance for Excellent Education)
  • Only 31 percent of college graduates have high level literacy skills. (2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy, cited by The New York Times)
  • 47% of students who took the ACTs in 2009 did not meet the ACT College Readiness for the Reading section of the ACT Benchmark. (the ACT)
  • A study conducted in 2005 revealed that 33% of non-college students and 29% of college students who participated in the study felt inadequately prepared for reading and understanding complicated materials. (Achieve, Inc.)
  • In a 2005 study, 70% of 300 surveyed college instructors felt that students were unprepared to understand college level reading and comprehending complex materials. (Achieve, Inc.)
  • The 2009 SAT results revealed that students who had four or more years of English and Language Arts study scored over 100 points more in Critical Reading, Writing and Mathematics sections than students who had one year or less training. (The CollegeBoard)
  • In 2008, California reported that only one-third of students who graduated from California public schools were prepared to go to a 4-year college. (The Center for Future of Teaching and Learning)
  • Reading frequency declines after age eight – and boys are more likely to be low frequency readers than girls. (2008 Kids & Family Reading Report)
  • Parents are key reading role models. High frequency reading parents are six times more likely to have high frequency reading kids. (2008 Kids & Family Reading Report)



  • Students who don't read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma when compared to proficient readers. The number rises when those kids also come from poverty. ( The Annie E. Casey Foundation )
  • The Coalition for Juvenile Justice (2001) reports that 82 percent of prison inmates are high school dropouts, and a very high proportion of them cannot read. (Adolescent Literacy: A National Reading Crisis)
  • More than one third of all juvenile offenders read below the fourth-grade level. (Adolescent Literacy: A National Reading Crisis)
  • Every school day in America, 3,000 students drop out -- the majority of them are poor readers. Students with below grade level reading skills are twice as likely to drop out of school as those who can read on or above grade level. (Adolescent Literacy: A National Reading Crisis)
  • About one-third of all first-year college students took a remedial course in reading or math in 2007-2008. Students taking remedial reading classes in college had only a 17 percent chance of graduating, according to 2004 DOE data. (Alliance for Excellent Education)
  • Forecasts that by 2018, 63 percent of all jobs will require at least some postsecondary education. Employers will need 22 million new workers with postsecondary degrees -- and the report shows that we will fall short by three million workers without a dramatic change in course. This translates into a deficit of 300,000 college graduates every year between now and 2018. (Georgetown University, Center on Education and the Workforce)
  • Forecasters have predicted that if static literacy levels continue, then by 2030 the entire Literacy Level distribution of the U.S. population will have decreased, creating an American workforce that is unequipped and unskilled to work in the demanding global market. (Educational Testing Service)
  • In 2008, the California State University System, the largest university system in the country, recorded that more than 60% of its incoming freshmen student's required remedial coursework in English. (The Center for Future of Teaching and Learning.)
  • It was estimated that a single state's employers will have to pay almost $40 million a year to provide remedial training in reading, writing, and mathematics to its employees if the current trends in secondary school preparation continue. (Achieve, Inc. 2004)
  • The United States placed 16th out of 21 OECD (Organization of Economic Co-Operation and Development) countries surveyed for high school graduation rates. (Educational Testing Service 2007)



  • Among adults at the lowest level of literacy proficiency, 43% live in poverty. Among adults with strong literacy skills, only 4% live in poverty. (First Book)
  • Low literacy costs $73 billion per year in terms of direct health care costs. This is equal to the amount Medicare pays for physician services, dental services, home health care, drugs, and nursing home care combined. (The National Center for Family Literacy)
  • One in every 100 U.S. adults 16 and older is in prison or jail in America (about 2.3 million in 2006). About 43 percent do not have a high school diploma or equivalent and 56 percent have very low literacy skills. (The National Center for Family Literacy)
  • If the male graduation rate were increased by only 5 percent, the nation would see an annual savings of $4.9 billion in crime-related costs. (Alliance for Excellent Education)
  • The average annual income for a high school dropout in 2005 was $17,299, compared to $26,933 for a high school graduate, a difference of $9,634. (Alliance for Excellent Education)
  • If the students who dropped out of the Class of 2009 had graduated, the nation's economy would have benefited from nearly $335 billion in additional income over the course of their lifetimes. (Alliance for Excellent Education)
  • Unless major efforts are made to improve education attainment of US citizens, personal income will decline over the next 15 years -- by 2022. (Educational Testing Service)
  • There is a distinct correlation between the Literacy Levels (1-5, 5 being the highest literacy level) and participation in the workforce. While only 49% of Level 1 adults report being active in the workforce, in comparison 77% of adults in Level 3 and 91% of adults in Level 5 are participating in the workforce. (2005) (Educational Testing Service)
  • It is suggested that adults that place amongst the lower literacy levels are not only less-skilled for the changing employment environment, but are given less opportunities to engage in programs to acquire requisite skills and job training. (Educational Testing Service)



  • Fifteen-year-old students whose parents often read books with them during their first year of primary school show markedly higher scores in PISA 2009 than students whose parents read with them infrequently or not at all.
    ( Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) )
  • The performance advantage among students whose parents read to them in their early school years is evident regardless of the family's socio-economic background.
    ( Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) )
  • Students who read magazines and newspapers regularly for enjoyment also tend to be better readers than those who do not. ( Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) )
  • Children who grow up in homes where books are plentiful go further in school than those who don't. Children with low-education families can do as well as children with high-education families if they have access to books at home. (Family scholarly culture and educational success: Books and schooling in 27 nations 2010 )
  • When children are provided with 10 to 20 self-selected children's books at the end of the regular school year, as many as 50 percent not only maintain their skills, but actually make reading gains. (Bridging the Summer Reading Gap, by Anne McGill-Franzen and Richard Allington)
  • Children living in poverty, on the whole, have a greater summer learning loss than do children from affluent families, and those students living in poverty who did have gains over the summer, had smaller gains than their peers whose families had higher incomes. (McGill-Franzen and Allington)
  • Ensuring that books are available to any child at any time of the year will be a good first step in enhancing the reading achievement of low-income students and an absolutely necessary step in closing the reading achievement gap. (Ameliorating summer reading setback among economically disadvantaged elementary students, Richard Allington, April 2007)
  • Students who read widely and frequently are higher achievers than students who read rarely and narrowly. (Scholastic: Classroom Libraries Work!)
  • Children learn an average of 4,000 to 12,000 new words each year as a result of book reading. (Scholastic: Classroom Libraries Work!)
  • Research has found a relation between the amount of time that children read for fun on their own and reading achievement. (Handbook of Research on Teaching the English Language Arts)
  • Children in classrooms without literature collections read 50% less than children in classrooms with such collections. (International Reading Association)
  • Studies have proven that increased family engagement in educational programs is linked with increases in child reading achievement and other academic successes (such as high school graduation rates.) (Pre-K Now)



  • Across Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, the quarter of students who enjoy reading most, score one-and-a-half proficiency levels higher in reading than the quarter of students who enjoy reading the least. ( Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) )
  • In 2006, UNESCO reported that there are still 132 million young people worldwide that are unable to communicate in a written language. (UNESCO)
  • According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, there is an estimated 774 million illiterate adults in the world, in which 64% are women. (UNESCO Institute for Statistics)
  • From 2001 to 2006, 8 countries have recorded an increase in their average reading literacy scores, 6 reported decreases. And the U.S. and other remaining countries reported no change. (National Center for Education Statistics)
  • Around the world, 775 million adults are illiterate. (UNESCO)