|Reading One Program promotes literacy|
|Saturday, September 21, 2013 12:21 AM|
BY KIRK DOUGAL
Times Bulletin Publisher
The inability to read at a functional level in today’s society leaves millions of people at economic and sociological disadvantages that are almost impossible to overcome. Look at some of these facts surrounding illiteracy:
- The number of U.S. adults who cannot read equals 32 million, or 14 percent of the population.
- The number of U.S. adults who read below the fifth grade level (functionally illiterate) equals 48 million, or 21 percent of the population.
- In the U.S., 75 percent of the people who receive food stamps perform at the lowest two levels of literacy. This also relates to the fact that 90 percent of all high school dropouts end up on welfare.
- Two-thirds of U.S. students who cannot read proficiently by the fourth grade end up in jail or on welfare.
- Over 70 percent of all U.S. prison inmates cannot read above the fourth grade level. Some states still use the reading levels of elementary school children to predict how much prison space will be needed in the future.
- Almost 85 percent of juveniles in the U.S. court system are functionally illiterate.
- Children born to illiterate parents are more likely to be illiterate.
- Girls between the ages of 16 to 19 years old who live at or below the poverty line and have below average literacy skills are six times more likely to have a child out of wedlock than girls with average reading ability.
- Low literacy rates lead directly to costs to the health insurance industry of $70 million per year.
After a while, numbers can sometimes run together and become a mass of confusion. With that in mind, let’s look at a couple of the above figures and boil them down to everyday concepts.
- If you are sitting at a table with four other adults, one of you cannot read above the fourth grade level.
- According to the American Library Association, Prose Literacy is the ability to comprehend and use continuous text such as editorials, news articles, or instruction manuals. One out of seven U.S. adults cannot perform this function (14%).
- Document Literacy is the ability to comprehend and use non-continuous texts such as job applications, payroll forms, maps, or food and drug labels. One out of nine U.S. adults cannot perform this function (12%).
- Quantitative Literacy is the ability to use and identify formulas within a text such as balancing a checkbook or calculating tax or a tip. Two out of nine U.S. adults cannot perform this function (22%). (*)
The Read One Program began in 2011 in Van Wert County and has seen tremendous community growth in just two years. Started with the idea of stressing the importance of stamping out illiteracy for individuals and the community, it coincided with October being named National Book Month and was designed to bring attention to reading during the month in the hope the focus would remain on reading the rest of the year as well.
The program calls for Allen County residents to read at least one book during the month and then to send The Herald the name of the book and the author. We will print in the first week of November the list of the books that were read during October (the name of the reader is not published). These can include fiction, non-fiction, Young Adult, or - just as importantly - books read to children. Right now, four other newspapers and libraries across northwest Ohio have agreed to adopt the Read One Program.
Detailed information will be in The Delphos Herald next week about how to participate in the Read One Program. We encourage everyone to take the time to show the importance of literacy by reading at least one book in October.
(*Editors note: All U.S. illiteracy statistics provided by the U.S. Department of Education and the American Library Association.)