This may seem like a ridiculous subject to blog about since one needs to read in order to read this blog, but according to a federal study, the reality is that about one in 20 adults in this country is not literate in English. This means that there are 11 million people who lack the skills necessary to handle many everyday tasks. Another disturbing fact is that even though there are more people getting a formal education, the literacy level in this country is not rising. In fact, the US illiteracy rate hasn’t changed in 10 years. Granted, there may be those who are illiterate in English but able to read and write another language, but the inability to read English fluently affects even their earning potential. Studies show that those people who are unable to perform challenging and more complex reading tasks will earn to 55% less per year than those who can. That’s a huge difference especially in today’s economy.
According to the Department of Justice, “The link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded to reading failure.” This is supported by the following statistics from BeginToRead.com: 85 percent of all juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate, and over 70 percent of inmates in America’s prisons cannot read above a fourth grade level. You may be wondering what this has to do with you. Obviously, you can read, but the odds are good that if you look at 20 people that you know, you will find someone who struggles with reading. It may be a teenager, an adult, or an immigrant. I know a man who was fairly successful at hiding his illiteracy from those around him for years before someone figured out that it was more than a need for glasses that made him ask people to read his mail for him. That discovery prompted him to swallow his pride, admit that he had a problem, and get some help.
All of our local branches of the San Bernardino County Library have an adult literacy program. Through that program, anyone who desires to learn to read can receive reading instruction. All of this instruction is done at the library by trained volunteers. The instruction is free, confidential, and provided one on one so there is no need to be embarrassed by an inability to read. If you know someone who struggles to read, tell them about these programs. Offer to accompany them to the library to start the process of getting a tutor. It can be difficult or embarrassing for some people to ask for help, and they may appreciate the support.
One more thing….
Since you are able to read, consider attending the Literacy Tutor Training program this Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 10:00 am at the Newton T Bass Library located at 14901 Dale Evans Parkway in Apple Valley. Sometimes, there is a long wait to get a literacy tutor. It would be nice if there were more of them around. Being a Literacy Tutor is like being a super hero. Your efforts might help save someone’s life, or at the very least, it might help change the direction they were going.
**Patti can also be found at PattyCakesPantry.com where she tries to limit her blogging to stocking a pantry, budgeting, and recipes. She isn’t always successful.