After years of bemoaning the decline of a literary culture in the United States, the National Endowment for the Arts says in a report that it now believes a quarter-century of precipitous decline in fiction reading has reversed.The report is from a survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2008.
Among its chief findings is that for the first time since 1982, when the bureau began collecting such data, the proportion of adults 18 and older who said they had read at least one novel, short story, poem or play in the previous 12 months has risen.Of course, it wasn’t all good news. The proportion of adults reading poetry and drama continues to decline. But today, we’re reporting good news.
Nevertheless the proportion of overall literary reading increased among virtually all age groups, ethnic and demographic categories since 2002. It increased most dramatically among 18-to-24-year-olds, who had previously shown the most significant declines.Dana Gioia, outgoing chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, attributes the increase in literary reading to:
community-based programs like the “Big Read,” Oprah Winfrey’s book club, the huge popularity of book series like “Harry Potter” and Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight,” as well as the individual efforts of teachers, librarians, parents and civic leaders to create “a buzz around literature that’s getting people to read more in whatever medium.”