These States Have the Highest and Lowest Literacy Rates

The global literacy rate currently stands at 86.3%. It is significantly higher for men, mainly when calculating the African continent’s standards where educational gaps are present.

Americans often believe the United States is the most literate country globally, but it typically ranks in the middle of the top 10. Several European nations, including Finland, Norway, and Switzerland, achieve a higher ranking.

Some U.S. states are successful at providing education opportunities to everyone, while others lack services in this area.


1. New Hampshire has the highest literacy rate in the United States at 94.2%. Over one-third of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher, and 60% of households have at least one registered library user.

2. Minnesota has a 94% literacy rate. Over 70% of individuals have a library card that they use regularly here.

3. North Dakota comes in with a 93.7% literacy rate despite having the lowest number of registered library users in the country.

4. South Dakota has a 93% literacy rate, partially due to having 16.4 public libraries available for every 100,000 residents.


1. California has a basic prose literacy rate of 76.9%. The state’s situation is so bad that the government is getting sued because students are not receiving the education needed for essential reading and writing skills.

2. New York has a literacy rate of 77.9%. What is unique about this statistic is that the state is also in the top 10 for adults with an undergraduate degree or higher.

3. Florida’s literacy rate stands at 80.3%. The issue here involves a lack of public library access, with just 2.6 facilities available for every 100,000 people.

4. Texas has a literacy rate of 81%, and public library access is also an issue here.

State geography doesn’t tell the entire story of literacy in the United States. 23% of those with low English literacy skills are African-American, which is the most disproportionate racial or cultural demographic in this category.