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Literacy Statistics and Why People Don’t Like to Read

Bill Allen
Bill Allen
Oct 06, 2021
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Some Statistics of Concern:

“1 in 4 children in America grow up without learning how to read.” 

(WriteExpress Corp. “Literacy Statistics” Begin to Read. Accessed Arpil 16, 2014).

68% of fourth-graders in Georgia are not reading proficiently. “ 

(Georgia Center for Nonprofits 2013)

“Children who aren’t reading at grade level at the end of third grade are four times as likely to drop out of high school. “ 

(Donald J Hernandez, Double Jeopardy: How Third-Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School Graduation.  The Annie E. Casey Foundation).

“Each dropout, over their lifetime, costs the nation approximately $260,000.” (Rouse, C.D. (2005).  “Labor market consequences of an inadequate education.”  Paper prepared the Social Costs of Inadequate Education symposium, Teachers College Columbia University, October 2005.)

“14% of adults cannot read.” (2009. Robert Roy Britt, Live Science).

“According to the Department of Justice, ‘the link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded to reading failure.’ The stats back up this claim: 85% of all juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate, and over 70% of inmates in America’s prisons cannot read above a fourth-grade-level.”   (http://www.begintoread.com/research/literacystatistics.html/t/_hplink)

“Approximately 32 million adults in the United States can’t read (are functionally illiterate), according to the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that 50 percent of U.S. adults couldn’t read a book written at an eighth-grade level. “ (http://www.intellectualtakeout.org/users/daniel-lattier August 26, 2015)

And it is getting worse [2010 to 2018 study].  

By 2020, jobs in the District [of Columbia] will require the highest concentration of postsecondary education.” (according to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.   “State Level Analysis, June 2010.  Help Wanted Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements through 2018”)

How common is it for adults to not like to read?

About a quarter of American adults (24%) say they haven’t read a book in whole or in part in the past year, whether in print, electronic or audio form. “(Pew Research Center.  March 23, 2018,  Andrew Perrin. Who doesn’t read books in America? http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/03/23/who-doesnt-read-books-in-america/)

“Huffington Post (who polled 1000 adults) found that 28% adults had not read a book in the last year; 41% of their respondents had not read a fiction book in the past year; and 42% had not read a nonfiction book in the last year.” (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/07/american-read-book-poll_n_4045937.html)

In 1978, Gallup found that 42% of adults had read 11 books or more in the past year.  Pew (2014) today finds that only 28 % hit the 11 mark.  Research suggests that these numbers are related to the level of education of the adult.”  (https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/01/the-decline-of-the-american-book-lover/283222)

Yet, “To participate fully in society and the workplace in 2020, citizens will need powerful literacy abilities that until now have been achieved by only a small percentage of the population.”  (Literacy Statistics Reference Information National Council on Teachers of English Standards for the English Language Arts.)

Who are these Non-Readers?  

Magical I Am™ believes they are adults who failed to learn to read fluently with comprehension and to enjoy reading while in school. We presume that they experienced frustration and failure in attempting to master reading when young, ridiculed and shamed when they could not read out loud in class, and now avoid reading as adults and fear being discovered as not able to read.  These adults suffer every time they cannot read to their small child, want to take jobs that require reading, want to read the labels on medications and products they would like to buy.

The Interrupt Dynamic

Magical I Am™ has found that a major cause of reading not being fun results from the occurrence of a powerful subliminal “Interrupt Dynamic.”  The Interrupt Dynamic occurs when an individual, again and again in a few lines of text, fails to recognize and understand a word, or several words in a row of the text.  Think of it like having those abstract words become blank spaces in the text.  See the example below.

For Example: “h    w    y   understand   w   w   written   o   t   page   i   t   w   a    l    o    blank spaces?” 

(Translated: “how would you understand what was written on this page if there were a lot of blank spaces?”) 

The written words causing the Interrupt Dynamic are, most often, the abstract words that, by definition, lack any concrete association that can be physically experienced.  ‘Tree ‘is a concrete word; it represents something that can be seen and touched.  ‘Is’, however, is abstract, has no physical counterpart, and cannot be experienced physically. Unlike ‘tree’, ‘is’ has no meaning that can be known by the senses.

Abstract words make up a large part of the words in print (over 50% of text read in K-3 grades). Abstract words can challenge the brain so that the reader develops a kind of ‘word blindness’ due to the interruption of meeting a number of them in a few lines of text.  Comprehension and fluency are lost due to the “Interrupt Dynamic” in reading. Frustration results and desire to get away from the stress of reading build.  This dynamic occurs deep in the brain and is not obvious to anyone, but the frustrated reader who is impaired by it.  Magical I Am™ believes that because this deterrent to reading is subliminal, happens below the level of consciousness, it is not suspected to be the problem.

When these children grow to be adults who could not become capable of reading at the level of their peers, they are not attracted to reading books, newspapers, eBooks, articles, labels, forms and contracts.  It is too difficult, if not impossible, to understand them.

“If kids struggle with reading in their younger years, it increases the odds that they'll do so as adults. “  (Shocking Facts: 23 statistics on Illiteracy in America. May 2016. https://www.creditdonkey.com/illiteracy-in-america.html.)

“Despite being a global economic and political leader, illiteracy continues to be a pervasive problem in the U.S. For adults who struggle with reading, the impact is felt in a number of ways, but the most obvious one is in the workplace. While researchers have pinpointed some of the causes behind the illiteracy crisis, including poverty, learning disabilities and a lack of parental participation, finding a solution has proven difficult. 

To put the severity of the issue into perspective, CreditDonkey has assembled a list of 23 startling statistics on illiteracy in America.” (Shocking Facts: 23 statistics on Illiteracy in America. May 2016.  (https://www.creditdonkey.com/illiteracy-in-america.html.)

Four of the 23 statistics by CreditDonkey: #2. How does [US Illiteracy] compare to the rest of the world? On a global scale, illiteracy affects 774 million adults aged 15 or older. Among developed nations, the U.S. ranks 16th for adult reading skills.

#3. How many [US] adults only read at the lowest proficiency level? Between 40 and 44 million adults, or roughly 20 to 23% of adults in the U.S., are limited to reading at the basic or below basic proficiency levels. 

#10. What percentage of high school graduates can't read [in the US]? Making it to graduation day is a major milestone for teens, but many of them struggle to decipher the words on their diploma. Just under 20% of high school grads haven't developed basic reading proficiency by the time they don their cap and gown. 

#21. How does illiteracy impact the [US] economy? In terms of lost productivity, it's estimated that the portion of the population that can't read costs the nation a staggering $225 billion each year. 

Magical I Am - Sky Village is a literacy app designed to help those who are at risk of becoming part of the population who hates to or can’t read, and the people who can read but don’t like to read.  The initial target audience for Sky Village will be the most at-risk group, the K-5 children.  Later we want to create English apps targeted for middle school children, adults, and English as a Second Language children and adults. 

First and foremost, the statistics projected beyond 2020 show that education well 

beyond high school will be required to be competitive in getting a job that is financially supportive. 

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