WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- More U.S. residents, especially young people, are reading literature, the first time that's happened in 25 years, the National Endowment for the Arts says.
Among the key findings of the NEA's 2008 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts is that for the first time in the history of its surveying, conducted five times since 1982, the overall rate at which adults read literature such novels, short stories, plays or poems, rose by 7 percent.
"This dramatic turnaround shows that the many programs now focused on reading, including our own Big Read, are working," said NEA Chairman Dana Gioia. "Cultural decline is not inevitable."
The biggest increases came among young adults between 18 and 24 years old, reversing two decades of downward trends, the report said. It found that since 2002, that age group has seen a 9 percent increase in literary reading, reversing a 20 percent decline found in the 2002 survey.
The absolute number of literary readers has also grown significantly, with 16.6 million more adult readers of literature since 2002, the NEA said.
The survey polled 18,000 people in 2008.