skip to main content skip to footer

What Do Adults Read?

Sharon, Amiel T.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Literacy, Reading Habits, Response Analysis Corporation, Socioeconomic Influences, Surveys


A survey of the reading habits of a national sample of 5,067 adults was conducted in order to determine what is being read, by whom, for how long, for what reason, and how reading fits into people's daily activities. The results indicate that reading is a ubiquitous activity of U.S. adults. A substantial portion of the waking hours of many persons is spent in reading, frequently during daily activities such as working; shopping; attending school, church, or theater; traveling or commuting; and recreational or freetime activities. Most reading time is spent on newspapers, magazines, books, and job-related matter. Many types of reading on which a relatively short time is spent, however, are an integral part of other activities of the individual, such as the reading of street or traffic signs while traveling. Although the average person reads for almost two hours on a typical day, people differ greatly in the amount that they read. Persons with high socioeconomic status tend to read more of all kinds of printed matter than those with low status. The 5 percent of all adults who are unable toread, including the visually handicapped, the foreign language raders, and the illiterates (those who never learned to read in any language), have an extremely low socioeconomic status and frequently depend on others to read them. (30pp.)

Read More