Orwell Award Announcement SusanOhanian.Org Home

[Susan notes: What a joyous feeling it was to pick up a copy of USA Today in the airport in Nashville and see this letter by Stephen Krashen.]

Published in USA Today

To the editor

There is very little evidence to support USA TODAY's

claim that Americans are reading less for pleasure

("Americans close the book on recreational reading,"

Life, Nov. 19).

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) report

claimed that reading was declining the most for 13-

and 17-year-olds.

The report quotes the Pew Research Center, which found

that in 2006 only 38% of adults said they read a book

the previous day. The NEA report fails to note that in

2002, Pew found that 34% of adults read a book the

previous day.

Also, when all kinds of reading are considered, such

as magazines, newspapers and material posted on the

Internet, young people report reading about an hour a

day, according to a 2005 Kaiser Family Foundation


American writers have been complaining about the

decline of literacy since 1874, when more than half of

Harvard's candidates flunked an entrance exam. There

was no clear evidence of a decline then, and there

isn't any now.

Comment added by S Krashen to USA Website,


In checking the 2002 Pew report, I discovered that in 1994, only 31% of adults said they read a book the previous day. This is more evidence that the trend since 1994 is up, not down, more reading, not less.

Read a book yesterday:

1991: 31%

1995: 35%

2000: 35%

2006: 38%

Stephen Krashen

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of education issues vital to a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information click here. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.