Washington, D.C. -- not New York -- is 'most literate' city in U.S.

Washington_DC_literate_citi

The nation's capital has scored top literacy honors for the second year in a row, ranking No. 1 as the "most literate" city in America.

(We'll pause here for snarky commentary, such as this one making the rounds: "Considering the fact that it appears that no one in Congress reads the laws they vote on, this is remarkable news.")

Perhaps even more remarkable? New York City didn't even make the Top 10, tying with Austin, Texas, for the No. 22 slot.

That's puzzling if you've ever been on a New York City subway: It seems as if half the riders spend their commute buried in a bestseller, an e-book, a tabloid newspaper, or a smartphone screen. (That's still reading, right?) That's gotta sting a city that prides itself as being the heart of the publishing world, not to mention home of the literary elite.

Rounding out the Top 5 on the list at Nos. 2 through 5 are Seattle, Minneapolis, Atlanta and Boston.

The list is put together by Central Connecticut State University, which ranks the literacy of the nation's largest communities based on several indicators including number of bookstores, e-book sales, library resources, newspaper circulation, other periodical publishing resources, Internet resources and education.

Los Angeles lands at No. 59 in the rankings. And at the end of the list? Three of the bottom five are in California: Fresno (No. 71), Stockton (No. 72) and Bakersfield (No. 75).

Dr. Jack Miller, university president and study author, said the 2011 edition of the annual survey also took a look at the relationship between wealth and literacy by using income data from the U.S. census. Perhaps surprisingly, he said in a statement: "I learned that wealthier cites are no more likely to rank highly in literacy than poorer cities."

He cited the following example: Cleveland ranks second-lowest for median family income according to the research, yet boasts a thriving library system, local newspaper and magazine, and as a result lands at No. 13 on the survey.

"This demonstrates that if cities are truly committed to literacy, they can find a way past poverty and other socio-cultural challenges to create and sustain rich resources for reading," he said.

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-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch

Photo: The U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. Credit: Brendan Smialowski / Getty Images

 
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Rene Lynch has been an editor and writer in Metro, Sports, Business, Calendar and Food. @ReneLynch

As an editor and reporter, Michael Muskal has covered local, national, economic and foreign issues at three newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times. @latimesmuskal


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