Reading Makes Me Do It

NPR had a bit today about the NEA report on reading that came out earlier this summer.

New York, N.Y. – Literary reading is in dramatic decline with fewer than half of American adults now reading literature, according to a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) survey released today. Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America reports drops in all groups studied, with the steepest rate of decline – 28 percent – occurring in the youngest age groups.

Reading also affects lifestyle, the study shows. Literary readers are much more likely to be involved in cultural, sports and volunteer activities than are non-readers. For example, literary readers are nearly three times as likely to attend a performing arts event, almost four times as likely to visit an art museum, more than two-and-a-half times as likely to do volunteer or charity work, and over one-and-a-half times as likely to attend or participate in sports activities.

The way it was being spun on the radio was a little nervy – implying that people who read did more volunteer work BECAUSE they read – there’s nothing in their findings that offers any evidence of causality, but somehow it makes for good sound bites. Note that it wasn’t the NPR people who were making this claim but the poet dude that now heads the NEA who was being the doctor of spin.


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