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The Correlation Between Libraries and Literacy

If you have the skills to read a newspaper, quickly skim a restaurant menu, or savor the first chapter of a new book, it’s important to recognize the incredible gift and advantage you have in your life. In the United States, the richest country in the world, an astonishing 32 million American adults—or 14 percent of the population—are considered illiterate.

When analyzing the illiteracy issue in the United States, people often cite numerous causal factors. For example, those born to illiterate parents have a higher-than-average likelihood of being illiterate too. In other cases, individuals may grow up in households where they’re rarely—or never—encouraged to read, and may never seek access to books on their town.

But what about those who are eager to learn how to read but don’t have access to a library near their home? The data in this infographic shows that having a library nearby at a young age may make a huge difference. Indeed, there appears to be a correlation between literacy and access to libraries. More specifically, residents in states that rank low on ‘libraries per capita’ are less likely to have adequate literacy skills.

At Hachette Book Group, we believe that learning to read at a young age can make all the difference in life—and libraries are among the best ways of introducing children to the books that can change the course of their lives. That’s why we are strong supporters of important organizations like Literacy Partners, the National Book Foundation’s Book Rich Environments program, and Read Ahead.

Libraries instill a lifelong love of reading and help people get access to an incredible world of books. When we fail to support our libraries adequately, illiteracy and related issues tend to become more prominent. To explore the specifics further, check out the infographic.

an infographic depicting the correlation between libraries and literacy rates