Kansas University student Amy Cirocco sat in Watson Library on Friday afternoon cramming for a quiz in her religious studies class.
In her college courses, she has extensive reading lists. It's a challenge to get through material because she didn't particularly read much in elementary school or high school.
"If I did, it probably would have helped me out a lot now," said Cirocco, a sophomore from Kansas City, Mo.
Two recent studies have questioned the reading habits and performance of American students.
According to Progress in International Reading Literacy tests results, U.S. fourth-graders who took the test in 2006 ranked behind 10 countries or jurisdictions.
The American students scored about the same as in 2001, but that year students in only three countries scored higher.
Also, a report by the National Endowment for the Arts said particularly teens and young adults are reading less and their proficiency also is declining.
To Ann Bruemmer, the Lawrence public schools division director for curriculum services, state assessment test results help administrators and teachers find students' strengths and weaknesses in reading.
She said it's important to be aware of studies and the idea to provide a well-rounded education. But the studies may not always measure the same thing, particularly international comparisons, Bruemmer said.
What she does know is that Lawrence school libraries are used often and that the district ranked in the state's standard of excellence awards in reading recently - 13 elementary schools, two junior high schools, both high schools and the Lawrence Virtual School.
With the NEA study, some pointed to today's prevalence of electronic media, but Bruemmer said many young people likely do more reading on the computer than of a physical book.
"I think there's probably a lot of factors that play into that because we are an extremely fast-paced society today," she said.
Bruemmer also said results of the studies remind educators of the importance of their task.
"We need to make sure students value reading and also enjoy reading," she said.
KU junior Frank Allbritten, from Cunningham, can remember reciting poetry at a young age and reading often growing up when his parents urged him to.
"It's definitely helped prepare me for (college)," the English literature major said.
As for advice to younger students, KU student Cirocco says: read, read, read.
"If you read often, you'll read faster, and you'll want to read more often than if you don't," Cirocco said.