Read All About It… Please!

City’s literacy rank could use some work

Do you like to cozy up to a good book? Subscribe to any magazines? Even if you're just reading this article, consider yourself among a small group.

Chicago ranks only #34 among "America's Most Literate Cities 2008." After trading first and second place for the past six years, Minneapolis and Seattle have tied for the top spot this year.

The annual report studies the "culture and resources for reading" in 71 of the nation's largest cities. According to Dr. John W. Miller of Central Connecticut State University, the author of the study, the six key indicators of literacy are newspaper circulation, number of bookstores, library resources, periodical publishing resources, educational attainment, and Internet resources.

Rather than analyze reading scores or reading frequency, the study looks at the literary resources available to citizens and if people are using them.

Results suggest that online shopping is not responsible for the decline in bookstore sales, nor is the decline in newspapers' print circulation caused by the availability of free online news.

Cities that have a high percentage of newspaper subscribers also have a high percentage of people who read their news online. Likewise, cities that rank high with brick-and-mortar bookstores also have above-average populations of online purchasers.

"Cities that rank highly in one form of literate behavior are likely to rank highly in other forms and practices of literacy," Miller told the Sun-Times.

Washington, D.C.; St. Paul, Minnesota; and San Francisco, California round out the top five. The entire study is available online at

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