Reading for many people is an enjoyable pastime. In 2004 the NEA found that fewer than 50% of American adults reading literature. In 2009 the NEA that for the first time in over 25 years the percentage of American adults reading literature was increasing. In 5 years we went from the end of a literate America to a positive outlook on literacy because the fastest growing segment of readers are 18-25 years old. The NEA attributed this increase to reading programs that are working. I attribute this increase to Harry Potter. Specifically I attribute this increase to the realization by publishers that a huge amount of money can be made by making books that people want to read, specifically the youger readers. Twilight and Harry Potter are wildly popular.
The 2009 survey finds that most of the increases come from fiction. Poetry and Drama continue to decline. This would seem to back up my claim that young wizards and teenage vampires are driving the increase in reading, not necessarily reading initiatives. Is this a bad thing? Absolutely not, as long as people are reading it is a positive thing. The NEA studies have shown readers are more likely to volunteer, go to social events and be better human beings in general.
My main concern is that these studies are self serving, The NEA gets money to run literacy programs and if they show improvement than they continue to get money.