When a child discovers the world of books, he or she has truly discovered the world. Book-lovers, parents, educators, and literacy experts know the importance and pleasure of reading, and each time a child crosses the threshold from being read to, to being the reader, it’s as if a life has been saved. For millions of people in the United States, literacy is still just a dream, and without achieving it, they are living a nightmare. What can be done to give the gift of reading to others?
We probably first have to look at who is not reading and why.
Some are functionally illiterate and are elderly. Some struggle with English as a second language. Some are young school dropouts.
Whatever the reason, anyone without a neurological handicap can learn to read, even those with learning disorders. How many more special instructors and how much money would it take to make a significant dent on the literacy problem? I don’t know, but it seems like the resources should be put there.
Think of what happens for society when we convert an illiterate into a literate person:
1. They become independent people who now can participate not just in life but in society, government, and public discourse. They can even become teachers themselves.
2. They can perform higher job tasks, making them employable and more productive.
3. They help society grow and evolve. We’re only as smart as our dumbest people.
4. They become happier, more fulfilled individuals who become contributors, rather than takers.
The book publishing industry, in particular, could benefit the most from having a bigger pool of readers and consumers. So would print and online media outlets.
So who can or should help us solve this problem?
Certainly we need our government and schools to help resolve this problem, but they can’t do it alone.
We’ll need corporate sponsors, volunteer teachers, book donors, and others to help out, including book publishers and authors.
Could you be of assistance? Yes. Instead of ignoring or complaining about a problem, you can be part of the solution.
You can give your time.
You can give your ideas.
You can give your loving support.
You can give your books.
You can give your money.
You can give your advocacy on their behalf.
My daughter is nearing seven, in first grade. I see her adding words to her vocabulary everyday and know that she’ll soon have that breakthrough moment, where she really can read on her own. But for tens of millions of adults that breakthrough moment has not come. Is it too late for them? Not if you – we – can help it.
How about we make a social pact with one another and take an honest assessment of what we each have done this past year to further the cause of literacy in America. If you’ve done something, do more. If you’ve done nothing, begin doing something. Do what’s easiest – donate books, give money to literacy groups, or ask how you can help. Anything helps, everything counts.
Just think of how different your life would be without being able to read or enjoy books and the Internet! Imagine what worlds you can help open up for others whoa re in the shadows? If we believe in educating our children, we should also support educating adults. They were once children.
Look at what illiteracy contributes to:
According to DoSomething.org, over 70% of America’s inmates cannot read above a fourth-grade level. Many kids who don’t read proficiently by the end of fourth grade will end up in jail or on welfare.
Only one in five eighth-graders say they read recreationally almost daily. But 53% of fourth graders do. We lose our readers at a young age.
Perhaps, we should start with the areas that need the most help – DoSomething.org says Long Beach, CA ranked as the most illiterate city in America, followed by Mesa, AZ and Aurora, CO.
You may not realize how bad illiteracy is in this country, but it is a significant problem. We’re still a nation that’s learning and growing. The burden is on the educated to help the uneducated.
One in three Americans have a college degree. That means for every college graduate, two adults do not have a degree. So it’s a big burden for the knowers to educate the uninformed, but it must be done if society is to function at a higher level.
To learn more about literacy and how to help, please consult these resources:
Read up on how to help those who can’t.
QUOTES TO LIVE BY
"If you can't beat them, arrange to have them beaten."
COMEDIAN GEORGE CARLIN
"The fundamental cause of trouble is that... the stupid are cocksure, while the intelligent are full of doubt."
PHILOSOPHER BERTRAND RUSSELL
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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014
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