Adult Literacy in the US

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, only 13 percent of adults in America can read texts like books or articles at a proficient level. 44% read at an intermediate level, 29% at a basic level, and 14% at a below basic level. [1]

Even though citizens in the United States generally have more years of formal education than people in many parts of the world, they score lower than average on literacy tests. [2]

Child Literacy in the US

An article on literacy statistics by Reading is Fundamental states that 65 percent of fourth grade students read at of below the basic level. Children with lower reading levels may not receive help in school and might fall behind as a consequence. The article also mentioned that 34% of kids entering kindergarten "lack the basic language skills needed to learn how to read." [3]

To help children do well in school and in the rest of their lives, parents must spend time reading to them and encourage them to read in their free time. Young children who were read to more frequently by family members were more likely to recognize letters of the alphabet and be able to count to a higher number. As they got older, children who read more had higher scores on literacy tests. [4]

Literacy Around the World

In 2011, UNESCO found the global adult literacy rate to be 84.1% and the child literacy rate to be 89.5%. In both groups, more than half of those who were illiterate were female. This points to a continuing bias against women's education around the world. [5]

Katie MacEachern, 2016
Last updated: April 24, 2016