Libraries Fight Illiteracy

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Illiteracy is still a major problem in the United States. As most librarians know, the ability to read and write is tied to nearly every activity in modern society. You have to know how to read in order to apply for jobs, to understand healthcare or properly take prescription or over the counter medicine, to take part in social media, or simply to participate in many social opportunities. Literacy is the foundation to build essential skills to perform better in school and develop an interest in becoming a lifelong learner. It has a direct impact on one’s personal growth, economic welfare, and long-term well-being.

Approximately 32 million adults in America are considered to be illiterate; about 14% of the entire adult population cannot read. (CLICK TO TWEET)

Approximately 85% of youth who come into contact with the juvenile court are considered to be functionally illiterate, meaning they read at a basic or below basic level. (CLICK TO TWEET)

Between 40 and 44 million adults, or roughly 20 to 23% of adults in the U.S., are limited to reading at the basic or below basic proficiency levels. (CLICK TO TWEET)

Surprisingly, it's actually older Americans who most frequently lack adequate reading skills. Approximately one-third of adults who struggle with illiteracy are aged 65 or older. (CLICK TO TWEET)

Research has also linked illiteracy to poverty as an adult. As many as 75% of welfare recipients struggle to read even the simplest texts. (CLICK TO TWEET)

But American Libraries are equipped to help fight against illiteracy before it begins. (CLICK TO TWEET)

Public Libraries play a major role in helping children learn to read, instill a love of reading, and ensure that they grow into literate adults. Programs like Summer Reading and partnerships with preschool programs that provide access to books throughout the summer or outside of the home have a proven positive impact on reading development. These preschool and summer reading programs encourage children to spend significant amounts of time with books, a first step toward reading achievement. Library programs also encourage parents to play greater roles in their children’s literacy development which is another critical factor leading to reading achievement. There are even studies that show that children who spend more time in the library have significantly higher reading levels compared to other recreational activities


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With these programs alone, public libraries are in a remarkable position to expose children to great quantities of print and meaningful language and literacy development opportunities that researchers say are crucial to reading achievement thus allowing them to grow up to become more literate adults.