18 Reasons Why So Many Americans Struggle with Reading

Many Americans really struggle when it comes to reading portions of text. Why does this happen? You’ll find 18 reasons in this article.

Cell Phones

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The figures from TrueList show that “the average US smartphone user receives 46 app push notifications per day.” A lot of these notifications go off when we are supposed to be doing something important, like reading. Yes, many of us struggle to read because we are distracted by our cell phones.


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Many people nowadays choose to watch a video or listen to an audiobook rather than read something. Since reading is becoming less common in our modern society, people are finding it more difficult to read when they are forced to. When given the choice, they will not choose reading.


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When you watch a video or look at an image, the imagining is done for you. When you read a book, however, you have to paint the picture yourself. It’s your job to pick the voices and visualize the backdrop. Many Americans struggle with reading because they feel like they don’t have an active imagination.


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“YouTubers upload 9.79 million new videos or about 720,000 hours of fresh video content per day,” says EarthWeb. A lot of the information that people used to read about is now available in video format. People are not exercising their critical reading skills anymore and thus struggle when they have to read.


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Reading is not engaging unless you’re interested in what you’re reading and are able to bring the reading to life. Videos, on the other hand, move quickly and hold your attention. Many people struggle to read because they find reading boring and are not engaged in the topic.

Unfamiliar Words

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According to EF English Live, there are 171,476 words currently in use in the English language. With so many words, we are bound to come across some that we are unfamiliar with. When hearing an unfamiliar word in a video, it is easier to guess its meaning from the visual cues. However, reading unfamiliar words is more challenging.


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Many people choose to read on an electronic device instead of from a book. But this can make reading more of a challenge. When reading on a device, we are constantly fighting the tendency to stop reading and open a different app. This can make it harder for us to concentrate.


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Reading a book is a lot slower than watching the movie. Many Americans struggle to read because they want to move as quickly through the story as they would while watching the movie. They want to know how a story ends and don’t have the patience to read each word to get there.


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Reading requires self-control and many Americans feel like they are lacking in this department. If you allow yourself to be distracted or your mind to wander while watching a video, you will likely still pick up some information because two of your senses are engaged. But reading requires full concentration.

Deep Thinking

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Reading requires deep thinking. You often have to re-read information to understand the train of thought and to remember what you’ve read. Videos, however, don’t require such deep thought, as many short summaries introduce videos if you forget what you’ve seen. When you read, you have to work harder.


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Many youth in the U.S. are not encouraged to read by their families. Because their parents do not sit down and read, they don’t either. They don’t grow up with the habit of reading, and this makes it hard for them to develop this habit when they get older.


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Figures from the Scanning Pens Blog show that “826 million paper books are sold in the U.S. every year, with sales peaking in late autumn and early winter.” But for households without a lot of books, reading becomes foreign to many Americans, and they struggle with it.

Skim Reading

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People tend to skim read when reading something on an electronic device more than they would when reading something on paper. Because of this, they’re only getting a partial understanding of the information. This makes it harder for people to read because their comprehension of the information decreases.


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According to Cross River Therapy, “Between 5% and 15% of Americans, which represents 14.5 to 43.5 million kids and adults, are dyslexic.” Dyslexia makes reading very challenging. It also makes other tasks difficult, such as spelling, writing, and reading out loud.


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It is a lot easier for us to retain the information we have read in a paper book than if it were something we had read on a screen. More and more people are reading on digital devices than ever before. Because of this, they struggle with reading because they’re more likely to forget what they’ve read.

Text Length

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The way that information is presented to us has changed drastically over the years. Paragraphs are shorter than ever before to hold our attention and stop us from clicking away. Because of these changes, many Americans struggle to read the long sections of text in books.


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We are all used to the way information is presented to us on the internet. Bold text, italics, links, and images keep our eyes on the page and make reading more interesting. Many Americans struggle with the mono-formatting of paper books because they find them boring.


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Books move at a far slower pace than most information on the internet. When you type in a question about something you want to know, a concise answer pops up, so you can read it and then move on. Reading a book is not like this. This makes many people find books too slow-paced.

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