Textbooks, Apple, and Globe on Desk

It is hard to imagine that illiteracy is a problem within the United States. The basic ability to read should be universal.

Unfortunately, literacy remains a persistent challenge for our society.

Rarely does a day go by without news of the challenges facing our educational system.  The headlines of the rising cost of college, the impact of standardized testing,  national education standards—all seem to occupy prime news spots on a regular basis.

Despite the focus on raising standards for students and competing on a global scale, an alarming number of individuals in the U.S. are considered functionally illiterate, meaning they perform at, or below a basic reading standard.

Illiteracy by the Numbers

According to the most recent studies, 14% of adults (nearly 32,000,000 people) in the United States cannot read at a satisfactory level. Even more shocking, this number has remained consistent since the first national literacy survey was conducted 24 years ago.

To compound the problem, almost 20% of high school graduates in the U.S. receive a diploma despite their inability to read at a basic level.

The Impact of Illiteracy

The far-reaching effects of low literacy rates can affect society in multiple different ways:

  • Statistically, a higher number of crimes are committed by illiterate individuals, resulting in a prison population with only a 30% literacy rate
  • Reports show that illiteracy has a direct impact on the healthcare industry, costing nearly $70 million annually
  • Public assistance rates are higher for those unable to read due to their increased inability to find work or handle basic tasks

How You Can Help

As research shows, illiteracy is a problem that shows no signs of improvement.

All it takes to end this disheartening epidemic once and for all is for people to step up and help make that change a reality.

Donate Books

Do literacy rates affect access to books, or does access to books affect literacy rates?

Are people unable to read because they don’t have access to books, or do they not buy books because they can’t read? Each year, studies show:

  • More than 40% of American adults do not read a single book.
  • 60% of American households don’t buy even a single book.

In addition, nearly 45 million adults cannot read a simple book to their children or grandchildren.

The problem is especially pronounced for the economically disadvantaged, as many children living in poverty have limited access to books. Given that access to reading material is a demonstrated factor that can hinder literacy, children living at or near the poverty line are at much greater risk of illiteracy.

Various organizations exist to provide books to children, allowing kids—many of them for the first time—to have a book of their very own to treasure.

Hosting a book drive, donating funds or volunteering is a direct way to fight against illiteracy.

Teach a Class

Thousands of community groups, libraries and colleges around the country partner with local citizens to establish reading support groups.  These support groups offer reading lessons to children and adults.

Volunteering can have a direct impact on your community as you empower others with the gift of literacy. Most organizations provide training and support—the only requirement is a desire to help others.

Become a Regular Reader

Early childhood programs are designed to instill a love a reading in children, but some children still manage to fall through the cracks.

By reading on a regular basis, you can help ignite a child’s imagination. You can help a child develop pre-reading skills that will help them as they learn. In addition, by listening to children read, you can help identify children who may need extra assistance and teaching.

Illiteracy is an epidemic; however, we have a cure. By helping just one individual learn to read, you can alter the course of that person’s life.

Have you ever wanted to be a super hero?  Here’s your chance: teach someone to read and you can change the world.