I've asked my freshman composition students to read the 2007 National Endowment for the Arts report To Read or Not to Read, which is filled with thought-provoking bits of detail about the fate of reading in contemporary American culture. Here's an example, presented in the report without explication (the analysis that follows is mine):
These numbers suggest that acquiring genuine readerly competence is increasing a do-it-yourself matter: simply going to school, whether it's high school or college, guarantees less and less. For the prose literacy test cited above, proficiency equals a score of 340 or higher (out of 500). Thus by 2003, even students with graduate study were falling short as proficient readers.
That's why I'm asking my comp students to read words, words, words (and the occasional chart).