The Issue

There is a significant literacy crisis in America today. Twenty-five million children in the U.S. cannot read proficiently (Based on an analysis of NAEP test scores).

Many recognize there are issues around literacy, but do not see it as the massive, systemic and generational problem that plagues our society as these children grow and enter adulthood: 


Of all children in the US, 34% of children entering kindergarten lack the basic skills needed to learn how to read; 67% of 4th grader read below grade level, contributing to 8,000 students dropping out of high school every day; 37% of students graduate high school at or above reading proficiency.




Of all adults in the U.S. 93 million read at or below the basic level needed to contribute successfully in society, and 43% are functionally illiterate.

Get Your State Statistics

When comparing state/jurisdiction average scores in reading for fourth-grade public school students in 2022 with those from 2019, the previous assessment year, 30 states scored lower; no states scored higher; and 22 states has no significant change in scores. Check out RIF’s Literacy Facts map to see how children in your state are performing. Literacy Map →


A map of the US highlighting literacy data for all states. Iowa is highlighted with 67% of 4th grade students found to not be reading at proficient level.

Literacy Insights

The children’s literacy landscape is constantly changing and evolving. Below please find articles, research and news to help keep you updated and informed.

At least two questions are critical for assessing journalistic quality. First, does the writing exhibit bias that distorts the truth? And, second, does the writer understand the topic deeply enough to report on it accurately?

People need to be taught to read. And the trouble is, educators, parents and politicians can’t seem to agree on the best way to do that.
Too many of our children are below proficient in reading scores and that’s heartbreaking.
Student test scores declined across the country, particularly in math, and not one state saw an increase, according to the most comprehensive look at the impact of the pandemic on student achievement to date. Declines were seen among high- and lower-performing students alike, for both fourth and eighth graders in math and reading. Overall, scores fell to levels not seen in two decades.
The reading and mathematics scores of 9-year-old students fell between 2020 and 2022, according to results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) long-term trend (LTT) assessment released today by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
Data shows the pandemic is not affecting all students in the same way or to the same degree
Airing on September 1, Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices is a new Netflix show that celebrates children's books written by Black authors, about the Black experience.
When Montgomery County Public Schools in southwestern Virginia transitioned to remote learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the district used school buses to deliver daily meals—and reading material—to students’ homes.
This annual report aggregates national reading data to provide lists of books kids are reading most in every grade.
Some key points: • Reading performance for both 4th and 8th graders dropped from 2017 • From 2017 to 2019, 17 states showed a decrease in reading scores, 1 showed an increase and 34 had no significant change • 65% of 4th grade students are not reading at NAEP Proficient level in 2019
In this ongoing series, "Getting Reading Right," Education Week will interrogate the cognitive science behind how kids acquire foundational reading skills, with a focus on the earliest elementary readers, in kindergarten through 2nd grade.
Some of the most important pre-literacy skills begin in infancy. This timeline shows examples of the milestones children meet on their path to fluent reading.
This article is part of the guide, What Does Reading Well Looks Like?
This article is part of the guide, What Does Reading Well Look Like?
New research released recently by Thorndike Press from Gale, a Cengage company, shows that students in grades 3-12 who read large print books developed stronger reading skills, felt more comfortable reading and adopted new, positive reading mindsets.
This article is part of the upcoming guide, What Does Reading Well Look Like?
This article is part of the guide, What Does Reading Well Look Like?
Reading Is Fundamental contracted with Learning Point Associates to conduct an objective and rigorous research synthesis on the impact of print access on children’s attitudes, motivations, reading behaviors, emergent literacy skills, and academic achievement.
To raise a lifelong literature lover, make it fun, not work.
Teacher led read alouds are a powerful instructional activity.
Changes in education policy often emanate from the federal government. But one policy that has spread across the country came not from Washington, D.C., but from Florida.
Letting students choose books to read helps them develop a sense of autonomy and ownership over their learning.
Children deserve access to the education, opportunities, and resources needed to read. Be an advocate for every child, everywhere. ILA's new advocacy manual includes not only a questionnaire to help you critically examine your own and your community's literacy practices but also targeted action items and concrete steps you can take to accomplish those goals.
From the moment you’re expecting your first child, you are bombarded with messages about the importance of reading. For good reason: The benefits of reading at every stage of a child’s development are well documented. Happily, raising a reader is fun, rewarding and relatively easy.
In this talk, researcher Keisha Siriboe shares insightful learning behaviors that parents, educators, and concerned adults can apply within their lives as well as in the lives of children.
Comparison of 1999 and 2016 NCES
Recent research shows that reading is on the decline in the United States; in a 2014 survey, only 17% of students ages 6 to 17 reported daily in-school independent reading.
Jack Silva didn't know anything about how children learn to read. What he did know is that a lot of students in his district were struggling.

If your district isn’t having an “uh oh” moment around reading instruction, it probably should be.

Scholastic released the results of its Kids and Family Reading Report, a biennial national survey of children and parents reading habits and attitudes toward reading and books.