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					Literacy and Communication
     in the United States
        By Grant Lovejoy
Reading Preferences
             Reading Preferences

• In 2002 the average American spent more time
  on the Internet (about three hours a week) than
  reading books (about two hours a week).
• The average American adult spent more money in
  2002 on movies, videos, and DVDs ($166) than on
  books ($90).
--Albert Greco, Fordham University
  “10 Years of Best Sellers: How the Landscape Has Changed,” USA Today (Mar.
  11, 2004), 2A
          Reading at Risk
               Released July 2004


Sponsor: National Endowment for the Arts (2002)

The U. S. Census Bureau asked more than 17,000
adults if--during the previous 12 months--they had
read any novels, short stories, poetry or plays in
their leisure time, that were not required for work
or school.
             Reading at Risk

“This comprehensive survey of American literary
 reading presents a detailed, but bleak assessment
 of the decline of reading‟s role in the nation‟s
 culture. For the first time in modern history, less
 than half of the adult population now reads
 literature, and these trends reflect a larger decline
 in other sorts of reading.”


Dana Gioia
Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts
“Literary reading in America is
not only declining rapidly among
all groups, but the rate of decline
has accelerated, especially among
the young.”

       Dana Gioia, Chairman
           Reading at Risk
“The important thing now is to understand that
America can no longer take active and engaged
literacy for granted. Reading is not a timeless,
universal capability. Advanced literacy is a specific
intellectual skill and social habit that depends on
a great many educational, cultural, and economic
factors. As more Americans lose this capability,
our nation becomes less informed, active, and
independent-minded.”


   Dana Gioia, Chairman, Nat’l Endowment/Arts
            Reading at Risk


• There was a decline of 10% in pleasure
  readers from 1982 to 2002, representing a
  loss of 20 million potential readers.
            Reading at Risk


• Only slightly more than one-third of adult
  males now read literature.
            Reading at Risk
Reacting to the Reading at
Risk report, “Kevin Starr,
librarian emeritus for the
state of California . . . said
that if close to 50 percent of
Americans are reading
literature, „that's not bad,
actually.‟"
           Reading at Risk
“In an age where there's no
canon, where there are so
many other forms of
information, and where
we're returning to
medieval-like oral culture
based on television," he
said, "I think that's pretty
impressive, quite frankly."
           Reading at Risk
Mr. Starr continued: "We should be alarmed, I
suppose, but the horse has
long since run out of the barn.
Two distinct cultures
have evolved, and
by far the smaller
is the one that's
tied up with book and high culture.”
              New York Times, July 13, 2004
Reading Skills
     National Assessment of Adult
           Literacy (2005)
• Tested 19,000 adults age 16+
• The assessment defines literacy as “using printed
  and written information to function in society,
  to achieve one’s goals, and to develop one’s
  knowledge and potential.”
                     NAAL
Three types of literacy:
   – Prose


   – Document




   – Quantitative
    National Assessment of Adult
          Literacy (2005)
Four literacy levels:
–   Below Basic
–   Basic
–   Intermediate
–   Proficient
      Adults’ Prose Literacy Skills
•   Below Basic (14 %)
•   Basic (29%)
•   Intermediate (44%)
•   Proficient (13%)
 Number of Adults in Each Prose
     Literacy Level: 2003




* Significantly different from 1992.
Note: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. Adults are defined as people 16 years of age and older living in households or prisons. Adults who could not be interviewed due to language spoken or cognitive or
mental disabilities (3 percent in 2003 and 4 percent in 1992) are excluded from this figure.
Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey and 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy.
        Prose Literacy by Race/Ethnicity:
                    1992–2003




* Significantly different from 1992.
Note: Adults are defined as people 16 years of age and older living in households or prisons. Adults who could not be interviewed due to language spoken or cognitive or mental disabilities (3 percent in 2003 and 4 percent in
1992) are excluded from this figure. In 1992, respondents were allowed to identify only one race. In 2003, respondents were allowed to identify multiple races. In 2003, 2 percent of respondents identified multiple races and are
not included in the White, Black, or Asian/Pacific Islander categories in this figure. All adults of Hispanic origin are classified as Hispanic, regardless of race. The Asian/Pacific Islander category includes Native Hawaiians. Total
includes White, Black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Multiracial/Other. Although not reported separately, American Indians/Native Alaskans are included.
Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey and 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy.
      Prose Proficiency Compared to
         Educational Attainment
•   High School Graduate       •   4%
•   Vocational/Trade School    •   5%
•   Some College               •   11%
•   Associate’s/2 yr. degree   •   19%
•   College graduate           •   31%
•   Graduate studies/degree    •   41%
   Prose and Document Proficiency
      among College Graduates
• From 1992 to 2003, the percentage of college
  graduates scoring “proficient” in prose literacy
  dropped from 40% to 31%.
• From 1992 to 2003, the percentage of college
  graduates scoring “proficient” in document
  literacy dropped from 37% to 25%.
Plato on Writing
  "If men learn this [writing], it will
  implant forgetfulness in their souls:
  they will cease to exercise memory
  because they will rely on what is
  written, calling things to
  remembrance no longer from
  within themselves, but by means of
  external marks; what you have
  discovered is a recipe not for
  memory, but for reminder.
Plato on Writing
  And it is no true wisdom that you
  offer your disciples, but only its
  semblance; for by telling them of
  many things without teaching them
  you will make them seem to know
  much, while for the most part they
  know nothing; and as men filled,
  not with wisdom, but with the
  conceit of wisdom, they will be a
  burden to their fellows.” Phaedrus
Dilbert on Writing
           Fact, Truth, Story
“Tell me a fact and I’ll learn. Tell me a truth and
I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in
my heart forever.”                      Indian proverb
       Corporate Storytelling
From BusinessWeek Online’s article about buzzwords in
the corporate world:


“Storytelling: The art of creating a compelling
narrative for your product and brand that
connects emotionally with your customers.
Think Pixar."
   Storytelling in Boardrooms
"Why was Solomon recognized as the
wisest man in the world? Because he
knew more stories (proverbs) than
anyone else. Scratch the surface in a
typical boardroom and we're all just
cavemen with briefcases, hungry for a
wise person to tell us stories.”

--Alan Kay, former V. P., Walt Disney
        Jesus the Storyteller
“He used many such stories and illustrations to
teach the people as much as they were able to
understand. In fact, in his public teaching he
taught only with parables, but afterward when
he was alone with his disciples, he explained the
meaning to them.” (Mark 4:33-34, NLT)
Storytelling is not
what I do for a
living - it is how I
do all that I do
while I am living.
Donald Davis
“Our lives must find their place
        in a greater story
  or they will find their place
       in a lesser story.”

                H. Stephen Shoemaker
Thanks for Listening