Promoting literacy

I read at an early age and so did my daughter. In truth, I think the best gift I ever gave her was the gift of being able to read.  Being carried away by a good story and getting lost in a fabulous book have provided me with innumerable hours of pleasure and escape. The ability to read, to lose oneself in a story, to imagine a world dictated by descriptions, is an amazing joy.

I discovered an absolutely appalling statistic today: the number of adults in the US who can’t read is estimated at 32,000,ooo. Over 70 % of inmates are illiterate and 19% of high school grads can’t read at a functional level.

This is in the United States of America! That number should be as close to zero as possible, but unfortunately, it isn’t.

I’m sure any sociologist or anthropologist worth their salt could tell you why this is so, but I don’t care about the reasons. I just want that number to be zero.

What kind of a society are we that accepts our people can’t read? What does it say about our educational system that allows 1 in 4 of its children to grow to maturity without the ability to read?  I will admit to being totally floored by these stats.  Perhaps it is because I live in a moderately affluent community where school is valued. Maybe its because of my color and race and the fact that I have access to good schools, good teachers, libraries, and book stores. It could be because I value reading so much, I naively assume everyone else does.

Again, the reasons seem irrelevant when you consider the facts.

This is my soapbox request for the day: If you’re reading this blog – congratulations, you can read! Now, pass that gift along. Read to your children, encourage them to read back to you, aloud. Take a kid to a library and show him the wonders to be found there. Get lost with a kid in a bookstore for hours. Make sure that reading is part of their core curricula in school. Give a child the gift of your favorite book when you were a kid, and then discuss it!

My wish for the future: 100% literacy in the greatest nation on earth. That would be us, kids, the United States of America.

Reading: it’s a good thing.

More statistics about illiteracy in America:

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