A must-read for parents and teachers, this major bestseller reveals how cultural literacy is the hidden key to effective education and presents 5000 facts that every literate American should know. In this forceful manifesto Professor E. D. Hirsch, Jr., argues that children in the United States are being deprived of the basic knowledge that would enable them to function in contemporary society. They lack cultural literacy: a grasp of background information that writers and speakers assume their audience already has. Even if a student has a basic competence in the English language, he or she has little chance of entering the American mainstream without knowing what a silicon chip is, or when the Civil War was fought. An important work that has engendered a nationwide debate on our educational standards, Cultural Literacy is a required reading for anyone concerned with our future as a literate nation.