Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Can You Read This?

One day recently, I heard a news story about the types of jobs forecasted to grow in the next decade. I thoroughly expected to hear about engineering, nanotechnology and the service sectors. Instead, it was stated that the employment of adult literacy and remedial education teachers is expected to grow 15% in the next ten years*. That struck me. Even though I talk about books and information daily, I take for granted the ability to read, as I bet most readers do.

According to Open Books, a nonprofit organization that promotes literacy, 53% of the current adult population in Chicago has low or limited literacy skills. Of course, these adults miss out on great novels and fun beach reads, but they also run into barriers everywhere in daily life. Imagine the difficulty with the dosage instructions on medicine, credit card agreements, nutritional labels, finding a job, choosing light bulbs.

The need to improve reading skills for adults is great, thus the forecast for an increase in jobs for trained teachers. Luckily there are tens, probably even hundreds of organizations that promote literacy in various different ways. Many popular fiction authors and writers donate to literacy. David Baldacci created the Wish You Well Foundation, Nora Roberts supports the ProLiteracy Foundation, columnist Liz Smith is the honorary chairman of Literacy Partners.

Locally, the Oakton Community College VITA (Volunteers in Teaching Adults) program plans to serve over 1100 students in fiscal year 2012. Here at the library, our reading clubs encourage reading and many learners practice with a novel and its corresponding audiobook. Additionally, a large collection of literacy and ESL materials are located on the fourth floor.

I hope it will be soon when I hear the next news story state that literacy rates are 100%.

*Bureau of Labor Statistics

Literacy Organizations:

American Library Association Office for Literacy and Outreach Services

Illinois State Literacy Office

Literacy Chicago

National Coalition for Literacy

Oakton Community Free Reading/Literacy Classes

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Literacy Spotlight - From the Illinois State Library E-News ISL 6/17/11

This week we spotlight Triton College in River Grove. An adult learner with a high school diploma joined the Access to Literacy program at Triton College. He retired after 31 years of service in his job but his reading skills were poor. The man was matched with a volunteer tutor and began his journey to be a better reader. They read books together and discuss both the meaning of the author’s words and the message the author is trying to convey. They read the editorial page of the local newspaper and discuss the views expressed. The student has learned to use a computer, to send email and use the internet. As part of this learner’s journey, he now chooses to read a book instead of watching television. He says it’s a wonderful feeling to read a book in its entirety. The man has completed 12 hours of adult literacy tutor training because he wants to become a tutor and help others learn to read.

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