Some very important reading statistics:

  • The Educational Testing Services reported that students who do more reading at home are better readers and have higher math scores.
  • Out-of-school reading habits of students has shown that even 15 minutes a day of independent reading can expose students to more than a million words of text in a year. 
  • 46% of American adults cannot understand the label on their prescription medicine. 
  • Students who reported having all four types of reading materials (books, magazines, newspapers, encyclopedias) in their home scored, on average, higher than those who reporter having fewer reading materials. 
  • 50 percent of American adults are unable to read an eighth grade level book. 
  • When the State of Arizona projects how many prison beds it will need, it factors in the number of kids who read well in fourth grade.
  • 32% percent of fourth graders read well, 34% test below proficiency, and 34% cannot read. (National Report Card)
  • 69% of our eighth grade students are reading below grade level. 26% percent of 8th graders are functionally illiterate, meaning they do not possess reading and writing skills adequate to function in daily life. (National Report Card)
  • 48% percent of adults are not proficient readers, while 22% are functionally illiterate. (National Report Card)
  • Only 3% of adults test at the highest level of reading proficiency. (National Report Card)
  • Only 10% of college graduates read at a high level of proficiency, 15% are below proficient while 4% are functionally illiterate. (National Report Card)
  • The greatest complaint by employers and educators is that workers are not adequately prepared in basic reading and writing skills. Their complaint reflects the reality that only 17% of working adults are both well educated and proficient in literacy skills.
  • 50% of the chronically unemployed and 60% of inmates are illiterate.
  • 85% of all juveniles in the court system are illiterate.
  • 93 million American adults, or 45% of the adult population, have limited reading, writing, and math skills. (National Assessment of Adult Literacy, 2003)
  • Illiteracy and crime are closely related. The Department of Justice states, (The link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded to reading failure.) Over 70% of inmates in America's prisons cannot read above a fourth grade level. (
  • An estimated 11 million adults in the U.S. are non-literate in English. (National Assessment of Adult Literacy, 2003)
  • The health care industry estimates $73 billion per year of unnecessary health care expenses attributable to poor literacy. (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Statistics, 2004)
  • 43% of adults at Level 1 literacy skills live in poverty compared to only 4% of those at Level 5 (
  • Penal institution records show that inmates have a 16% chance of returning to prison if they receive literacy help, as opposed to 70% who receive no help. This equates to taxpayer costs of $25,000 per year per inmate and nearly double that amount for juvenile offenders. (
  • Adult low literacy can be connected to almost every socio-economic issue in the United States.
  • Low health literacy costs between $106 billion and $238 billion each year in the U.S. - 7 to 17 percent of all annual personal health care spending.
  • Low literacy's effects cost the U.S. $225 billion or more each year in non-productivity in the workforce, crime, and loss of tax revenue due to unemployment. (ProLiteracy)

“Literacy is not a luxury, it is a right and a responsibility. If our world is to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century we must harness the energy and creativity of all our citizens.”
— - President Clinton on International Literacy Day, September 8th, 1994

Where there is hope