• Carly Peeters

Literacy: A Problem Most Americans Don't Realize They Have

In everyday life, reading is one of the skills we use a lot. We have to read signs to keep us safe on the road, menus to decide what to eat, and emails or texts to communicate with others. A lot of us take it for granted since most people begin their reading journey between the ages of 4 and 6. However, 32 million adults in the US are functionally illiterate, according to a report by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Functional illiteracy is a problem that most Americans don’t even realize they have. They are able to comprehend and form basic sentences, but it is much harder to understand more complex ideas and words. Being functionally illiterate means that you cannot read, write, or understand material that is above an eighth grade level, although it is not uncommon for someone with a low literacy level to graduate high school.

A CNN report estimated 19% of college athletes are functionally illiterate. Fantasia Barrino, an Amercan idol winner, revealed that she was functionally illiterate and had to sign contracts without understanding them. Byron Pitts, a co-anchor on NBC's Nightline, admits he was functionally illiterate and chronicled his rise above such obstacles in his book Step Out of Nothing.

Literacy skills start at home, but currently 44 million adults are unable to read a simple story to their children. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, these kids are 72% more likely to have poor grades, repeat a grade, have behavioral problems, have high absentee rates, or drop out of school just because their parents have low literacy levels.

When kids fall behind, it is much harder to get them back on track. One in four children grow up not learning to read. To learn more what you can do to help promote literacy, visit Jumpstart at and together we can help combat illiteracy.

#literallyliteracy #literacy #jumpstart

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