Gaining Independence through Literacy

32 million adults in the United States are illiterate, according to the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy. Illiteracy stands where the education of literacy is lacking. Functionally literate is the inability to read and write independently when demands are placed on an individual, defined by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

David Cammarata, a teacher in Oakland Unified School District’s Young Adult Program, leads reading and literacy workshops for a diverse student population with varying disabilities. The workshops focus on improving literary skills, and developing reading, writing, and critical thinking skills. “By working to meet the educational needs of each of our students, we are trying to help them find their voice and their love for learning,” said Cammarata.

Literacy should be a foundational part of every program, classroom and in teacher’s plans, according to Cammarata. “If we are not trying to find ways to constantly challenge and help our students improve, in as many ways as possible, then we are doing them a disservice.”

Low literacy rates can lead to a higher rate of unemployment, lower wages, crime, and more. The U.S. spends $225 billion each year in non-productivity in the workforce, crime, and loss of tax revenue due to unemployment, according to the National Council for Adult Learning. 43 percent of adults with low literacy levels also live in poverty. In comparison, five percent of adults with strong literacy skills live in poverty, according to the National Institute for Literacy.

75 percent of inmates in the U.S. did not complete high school or can be classified as low literate. If inmates receive an education they are 43 percent less likely to return to prison, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, Rand Report: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Correctional Education.

Globally 17 percent of the adult population is illiterate, according to UNESCO. The U.S. is ranked 28th in the world for the highest literacy rates, according the CIA World Factbook. Literacy is important in giving confidence, independence, and a voice to become an active self-advocate. Independence is the ability to identify symbols in the community, read a book or article, write or read an email or letter, and more, according to Cammarata.

We thank our teachers and literacy advocates for raising the standard and believe that the bar will continue to rise. For every book sold on, 25 cents is donated to the GoRead Children’s Literacy Fund. The fund is committed to providing money to not-for-profit organizations around the world, whose mandate involves giving children the motivation to read, the desire to read and the ability to read. This year we will be donating a minimum of $200,000 to our 2017 recipients and applicants can apply in September here.