Interesting Facts About Literacy

  • An estimated 2/3 of students who are unable to read with proficiency by the end of 4th grade will end up on welfare or in jail.


  • Worldwide, 12% (or 775 million adults) are considered to be functionally illiterate.


  • Over 93 million Americans have basic or below - basic literacy. Low literacy rates cost the United States over $200 billion each year.


  • For every dollar that is spent on adult illiteracy, society receives $7.14 in returns, either through decreased expenditures or increased revenues.


  • About 2/3 of the world’s lowest literate adults are women.


  • Crime is strongly linked to illiteracy. 


  • Over 70% of America’s inmates cannot read past a 4th grade level.


  • The most literate city in the United States is Minneapolis, with Washington D.C. and Seattle rounding out the top 3.


  • The most illiterate city in the United States is Long Beach, CA, followed by Mesa, Arizona, and Aurora, Colorado.


  • Approximately 1 in 4 children in America grow up without ever learning how to read.


  • Students are over 4 times more likely to drop out of school if they are unable to read proficiently by the 3rd grade.


  • The states with the highest graduation rates are Wisconsin, Iowa, Vermont, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. States with the lowest are Nevada, New Mexico, Louisiana, Georgia, and South Carolina. 


  • Research shows that holding back students from kindergarten does not benefit them socially or academically. Rather, it actually increases the chances they will drop out of school later. 


  • According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), only 53% of children ages 3 to 5 were read to daily by a family member. Children living below the poverty line were less likely to be read aloud to every day. Children who are read to frequently are more likely to count to 20 or higher, write their own names, and read or pretend to read. 


  • The United States has the widest gap of any country between the achievement of those in the top 10% and those in the bottom 10% of performance. 


  • While these are always in dispute, the top 10 best-selling books of all time are:

1) the Bible

2) the Qur’an

3) Xinhau Dictionary (Chinese Dictionary)

4) The Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien

5) The Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith

6) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, J.K. Rowling

7) And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie

8) The DaVinci Code, Dan Brown

9) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling

10) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J.K. Rowling


  • Books that have been repeatedly banned in the United States include:

1) 1984, George Orwell

2) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain

3) The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger

4) The Color Purple, Alice Walker

5) The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

6) I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou

7) Lord of the Flies, William Golding

8) Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck

9) One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey

10) To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee.  

  • During his lifetime, Herman Melville's timeless classic, Moby Dick, only sold 50 copies.


  • "Metrophobia" is the name for a fear of poetry. "Metromania" is the compulsion to write poetry. 


  • A "librocubicularist" is someone who reads in bed.

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