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D.C. Named Most Literate City For Fourth Year In A Row

D.C. was the top ranked city for a metric which included e-reader ownership.
Jens Schott Knudsen: http://www.flickr.com/photos/58571789@N00/5802294925
D.C. was the top ranked city for a metric which included e-reader ownership.
City Final Rank
Washington 1
Seattle 2
Minneapolis 3
Atlanta 4
Pittsburgh 5
Denver 6
St. Paul, Minn. 7
Boston 8
St. Louis 9
San Francisco 10

Readers of the District rejoice. For the fourth year in a row, Washington, D.C. has been crowned the country's most literate city.

The distinction comes from an ongoing study out of Central Connecticut State University going back to 2005. The study includes all large cities with estimated populations of 250,000 or more.

Jack Miller, the study's author, says he focused on six key indicators of literacy: number of bookstores, educational attainment, Internet resources, library resources, periodical publishing resources, and newspaper circulation.

D.C. posted strong rankings across the board, but was pushed over the edge by top rankings in the areas of internet resources and periodical publishing. The latter is a fairly straight-forward measure of the number of magazines and journals with circulations above a certain threshhold. The former is slightly more ephemeral, measuring Internet book orders, web visits to local newspapers and ownership of e-readers.

The last time another city wrested the mantle of most literate city from the District was in 2009, when Seattle topped the rankings. Seattle has been playing second literary fiddle to the District ever since.

The Mid-Atlantic region in general fared well. Baltimore finished with a final rank of No. 15 and Virginia Beach rounded out our region at No. 20.

As for specific reasons why D.C. and other cities in our region are bigger bookworms, Miller has some theories.

"An interesting trend develops out of the regions and states, which indicates that it may take a very long history to develop a culture of literate practice," he says. "The oldest cities in the Northeast, including Boston, New York, and others, have some of the highest literacy practice levels."

Miller says cities with a higher percentage of non-English speakers as well as low-income families tend to "practice lower literate behaviors."


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