Few things make a house feel like a home more than a good book and a perfectly organized reading nook. And if you’re anything like us, some of your fondest childhood memories are of reading deep into the night by the dim glow of your night light.
But you probably also find yourself thinking you don’t make enough time to read anymore. Well, maybe you just need a little inspiration and motivation. In this article, we put together 21 of the most page-turning reading statistics that are sure to rekindle your passion for the written word.
Let’s dive right into these fascinating stats!
The Top 10 Reading Statistics and Facts
- 43 million US adults possess low literacy skills.
- People aged 15–44 in the US spend 10 minutes or less per day reading.
- 27% of adults in the US didn’t read a book in 2018.
- The United States literacy rate positions the country as number 28 in the World Factbook.
- 6 additional minutes of reading per day can significantly improve kids’ reading performance.
- Children who read at least 20 minutes a day are exposed to almost 2 million words per year.
- One out of every five children in the UK can’t read at a satisfactory level by age 11.
- Reading could help reduce mental decline in old age by up to 32%.
- Reading fiction can make you a better decision-maker.
- Reading increases emotional intelligence, and consequently, your career outlooks.
Statistics About Reading in the United States
In this section, we’ll be looking at literacy rates and reading habits in the US specifically.
1. 43 million US adults possess low literacy skills.
Although the literacy rate in America is 99%, only 79% have a literacy skill level of 2 or higher, according to PIAAC (Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies). In practice, this means around 21% have difficulty completing “tasks that require comparing and contrasting information, paraphrasing, or making low-level inferences.”
2. People aged 15–44 in the US spend 10 minutes or less per day reading.
(Bureau of Labor Statistics)
The time spent reading outside of work and school depends significantly on the age group we choose to observe. People aged 75 and older read over four times as much per day (44 minutes) as the younger generations.
3. There has been a decline in reading time among Americans from 23 minutes to 17 minutes per day.
Interestingly enough, 17 minutes per day is also the amount of fitness activity that an average US adult gets. Despite the benefits of reading, statistics show we’re reading less and less every year. From 2004 to 2017, the average reading time of Americans dropped by six minutes.
Also, the percentage of Americans reading for pleasure on a given day plummeted from 28% to just 19%. Some age groups showed a greater decline than others, but none of them recorded an increase in reading time over the analyzed period.
4. Teenage reading statistics show over 80% of them don’t read for pleasure on a daily basis.
Research from the American Psychological Association confirms what you probably already suspected. Teenagers spend way more time on social media than they do reading.
But other media saw dips as well. From 2010 to 2018, teenagers spent less time reading and watching TV. Digital media is displacing most of the other leisure activities that used to be typical for the age group.
5. 27% of adults in the US didn’t read a book in 2018.
(Pew Research Center)
Book reading statistics show adults without higher education are the least likely to have read a book. 44% of Americans with a high school degree or less surveyed in early 2019 hadn’t read a book in the last 12 months. Education level seems to be strongly correlated with time spent reading.
In contrast, 92% of college-educated adults in the US reported reading a book during the same period. Reading habits also seem to increase in lockstep with household income.
6. The average number of books read per year by an American is 12.
(Pew Research Center)
If you’re wondering how many books the average American reads annually, this is your answer. Although some of these facts about reading may appear grim, Americans still read a fair amount of books. The average for women in the US is 14 books in a year, while the median across all populations is four per year.
So, if you read more than four books a year, you’re reading more than half the country.
7. In terms of literacy rate, the USA ranks 125th out of 194 nations.
This is concerning given that the US is considered a first-world country. Literacy rates are difficult to standardize, and the most widely accepted definition is the percentage of the population over 15 who can read and write. Some sources rank the US much lower based on reading behaviors and supporting readers’ resources, such as libraries.
Fun Facts About Reading and Kids
Here, we’ll be looking at childhood literacy rates and the reading habits of children.
8. 6 additional minutes of reading per day can significantly improve kids’ reading performance.
When it comes to the importance of reading, statistics show that a little reading goes a long way. Case in point: the difference in reading habits between children who meet the grade-level benchmarks and those who don’t amounts to just 6 minutes per day.
9. The benefits of reading to children, statistics show, include increased activation in certain brain regions.
Research by the American Academy of Pediatrics examined the link between brain activity in young children and home reading exposure. They found a strong association between children being read to and activation in areas involved in language development.
10. Children who read at least 20 minutes a day are exposed to almost 2 million words per year.
(Every Child Reads)
In contrast, kids who read at home for five minutes a day will hear only 282,000 words per year. But that’s not all.
Kids who engage in reading 20 minutes a day, statistics show, are likely to score better than 90% of their peers on standardized tests.
11. Exposing kids to e-books could increase average reading levels by up to 8.4 months.
(National Literacy Trust)
According to a National Literacy Trust study, access to an e-book platform also improved kids’ reading comprehension. The number of boys who thought reading was difficult dropped from 28% at the start of the study, to 15.9% by its end.
Furthermore, the percentage of children involved in the study who enjoyed reading books on paper jumped from 10% to 40%.
12. Reading statistics show 83% of children who are read aloud to love it or like it a lot.
The same research also showed that read-aloud time is on the rise. In 2014, the percentage of parents who read to their child before their first year was 73%. In 2018, that percentage went up to 77%.
In one of the most heart-warming facts about reading to your child, over 80% of both kids and parents saw read-aloud time as a positive experience. Most parents (over 92%) reported reading aloud is a special time between them and their kids.
13. One out of every five children in the UK can’t read at a satisfactory level by age 11.
(The Reading Agency)
18% of kids in the UK at the age of 15 don’t have a proficient literacy level, according to statistics about reading in the UK. In Northern Ireland, this percentage is 15%, in Wales, it is 21%. In Scotland, the percentage of 15-year-olds without a proficient literacy level is also 18%.
Interesting Facts About Reading and Mental Health
Reading can greatly impact your mental health. In this section, we look at how exactly reading can better your life.
14. Reading for as little as 30 minutes a week can produce greater life satisfaction.
According to a study from the University of Liverpool, respondents who described themselves as readers were 10% more likely than non-readers to report adequate levels of self-esteem. The percentage increases to 18% if we only observe those who read for 30 minutes a week or more.
Other stats about reading for 30 minutes or more per week included a 21% higher chance of significantly broadening one’s general knowledge. And people reading at least this much were 27% more likely to find it easy to start a conversation.
15. Reading could help reduce mental decline in old age by up to 32%.
In a study of 294 people, researchers discovered the importance of reading in senior years. People who engaged in mentally stimulating activities later in life experienced less cognitive decline.
However, researchers discovered even more impressive early-life reading facts. Keeping the mind active in childhood, adolescence, and middle age also contributed to a slower mental decline rate.
16. Reading can reduce stress by up to 68%.
(University of Minnesota, TLC)
Statistics about reading benefits often mention stress relief, but there are some limitations. For instance, the stress-relieving effects of reading are counterbalanced if you read something that makes you feel angry or helpless, such as negative news.
According to studies, reading offers even better stress reduction than some of the other popular methods, such as listening to music or exercise. Likewise, health and wellness statistics show that 30 minutes of reading can also lower the heart rate, blood pressure, and feelings of psychological distress.
17. Reading stats show that 50% of people who read before bed report sleeping better than non-readers.
Before you start self-diagnosing the causes of your lack of sleep, try a good book before bed. A bedtime reading ritual is an excellent way to wind down and prepare for sleep, with over 96% of bedtime readers recommending the habit to others.
Just make sure that you are not reading on your phone or laptop, as blue light has been shown to suppress melatonin production, which leads to sleep irregularities.
Career-Boosting Statistics About Reading and Success
Here, we’ll be looking at how reading can affect your chances of success.
18. Reading fiction can make you a better decision-maker, according to reading statistics in the world.
(Taylor and Francis)
If you want to become better at making decisions quickly, researchers say, abandon the need for cognitive closure. One way to do that? Read fiction.
Researchers from the University of Toronto found that participants were better at processing information and accepting ambiguity after reading fictional short stories.
19. 86% of people with an annual household income of $75,000 a year read at least one book every year.
Reading facts show those who earn more also read more. As opposed to the highest-earning households, only 70% of those earning less than $30,000 a year reported reading at least one book a year.
20. Reading facts and statistics show that teenagers who read in their leisure time know 26% more words than those who don’t.
One of the key benefits of reading is expanding your vocabulary. Teenagers whose habits were tracked since birth for a study showed that those who grew up in book-loving homes knew 42% more words than those who didn’t.
A broad vocabulary is a crucial skill for success. It allows for smooth communication and is a prerequisite for leadership, regardless of your profession.
21. Reading increases emotional intelligence, and consequently, your career outlooks.
One of the reading benefits, statistics show, is that fiction readers are more likely to show high levels of empathy and emotional intelligence than non-readers. Emotional intelligence is a key factor in how likable people find you to be.
Furthermore, another study from the APA found that hiring managers prefer candidates who are likable to those who are overly self-promotional.
The takeaway: reading more fiction could help you land your dream job.
Hopefully, some of these reading statistics for 2021 made it apparent just how important it is to start reading early and retain the habit throughout your life. And it’s important to remember that it’s never too late to become an avid reader.
It’s hard to find any area of your life that won’t be improved with more reading—from overall life satisfaction to a better career outlook; reading opens many doors regardless of your current situation.
So, if you’re looking to keep your mind healthy, snuggle under a fluffy comforter and grab your favorite book!
How many books does the average person read in a year?
If we’re discussing reading in America, statistics show that the average person reads 12 books per year. However, the median number of books read per year is four, meaning half the country reads fewer than four books per year.
(Pew Research Center)
What are the three most-read books in the world?
Although it’s difficult to know precisely how many people are reading these books, sales volumes provide a reasonable approximation. Over the last 50 years, the best-selling book has been the Bible, with almost four billion copies sold.
Quotations from the Works of Mao Tse-tung took second place with 820 million copies. The combined books of the Harry Potter series came in third with 400 million copies.
According to Bible reading statistics in the US, 24% of Americans read the Bible for an hour or more every day.
When do kids learn to read?
Typically, children learn to read by the age of six or seven. However, every child will develop slightly differently, and creating healthy reading habits is more important than achieving any hypothetical milestones.
How fast does the average American read?
A Staples-sponsored speed-reading test showed that the average adult in the US reads at a speed of 300 words per minute. Compare that to the fastest reader in the world, who can read a jaw-dropping 4,700 words per minute.
Do CEOs really read 60 books a year?
Contrary to popular belief, CEOs aren’t necessarily the voracious readers they’re made out to be. There’s no definitive proof about the number of books the average CEO reads, but a few remarkable examples have created a mystique about CEOs’ reading habits.
Bill Gates, for instance, claims to read over 50 books a year. Warren Buffer, another bibliophile, reportedly reads over 500 pages a day of various written materials.
Which country reads the most?
India, according to information from the NOP World Culture Score Index.
People in India spend just under 11 hours a week reading, on average. That’s about one day a week dedicated entirely to reading.
Thailand comes in second with 9 hours and 24 minutes per week, according to reading statistics.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Business Insider
- Every Child Reads
- Healthy Children
- National Literacy Trust
- Pew Research Center
- Pew Research Center
- Quick Reads
- Taylor and Francis
- The Reading Agency
- University of Minnesota
- Washington Post
- World Atlas