Reading at Risk Key Findings

Reading at Risk describes ten “key findings” about the state of literary reading in the United States. These ten findings are the following:

  1. Literary reading among American adults has declined sharply over the last twenty years.
  2. The decline in literary reading reflects a total decline in reading of all kinds.
  3. Literary reading is declining at an accelerated pace.
  4. Although women tend to read more literary works than men do, both groups show decline in their reading habits.
  5. The decline in literary reading is significant among Caucasian, African American, and Hispanic populations.
  6. The decline in literary reading is present across educational levels.
  7. The decline in literary reading is present across age levels.
  8. The sharpest decline in literary reading is among the youngest age groups surveyed.
  9. As literary reading drops, participation in community and cultural activities is also expected to drop.
  10. The decline in literary reading correlates with the increased use of electronic media (Internet, video games, etc.).

Suggested Reading for the College-Bound Student

College admissions professionals like to see well-read young people join the ranks of their students. Here are many of the fiction titles that appear consistently on suggested reading lists for college-bound students. These include titles from both American and world literature.  

  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
  • The Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark
  • Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  • The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
  • Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
  • The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest Gaines
  • The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass
  • Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • A Farewell to Arms and The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • The Call of the Wild by Jack London
  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  • A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell
  • The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
  • All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • The Grapes of Wrath and The Pearl by John Steinbeck
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
  • Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • Night by Elie Weisel
  • The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

Copyright 2006. Originally appeared in Fall 2006. Used with permission.

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.