The fact is that proficient readers usually obtain better-paid jobs, while less proficient readers have limited career opportunities. Those who have very poor reading skills or are illiterate experience a much poorer quality of life. Some states base their budgets for additional prison beds on fourth-grade literacy scores.
Here are a few more US statistics, taken from www.begintoread.com: One child in four grows up not knowing how to read. Three out of four food stamp recipients perform in the lowest two literacy levels. Low literacy costs $73 million per year in terms of direct health-care costs. A Pfizer study put this figure much higher.
The 2003 National Adult Literacy Survey reports the average adult American reads at a ninth-grade level. Popular novels are written at a seventh-grade level and the average newspaper is written at eleventh-grade level.
Some interesting statistics can be found at the following websites:
This website offers help in teaching children to read fluently:
http://www.interventioncentral.org. Intervention Central also offers a tool for testing the reading level of a book or article at http://www.interventioncentral.org/tools/reading-fluency-passage-generator. Complete the boxes with the title, author, and at least seventy-five words of text from your selected book/article. Click on Compute or download a pdf report.
Microsoft Word also has a Flesch-Kincaid reading level assessment tool (the most popular tool in the USA for assessing a text's readability/reading level. Click on the Microsoft Office Button; go to Word Options; click Proofing; under the subhead When Correcting Grammar in Word, check the Check Grammar with Spelling and Show Readability Statistics boxes. Run the Word spell check on the text you want to test. The results of the Flesch-Kincaid test should pop up after the spell check is completed. The Flesch-Kincaid test reports the grade level of the test content and its reading ease.
For an explanation of the Fleisch reading ease formula, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flesch%E2%80%93Kincaid_Readability_Test:
90.0 - 100.0 Easily understood by an average 11-year-old
60.0 - 70.0 Easily understood by average 13- to 15-year-olds
0.0 - 30.0 Best understood by university graduates
For example, the excerpt from my book Dewi and the Seeds of Doom on the book's website has a reading ease of 85.2 and a grade level of 3.9. I guess some young readers will have to look up a word or two in the dictionary, which I don't consider a bad thing.
I'll transfer the resource URLs in this article to a page of their own on this site.