Illiteracy in America

July 13, 2008

Illiteracy: The Downfall of American Society

It is a chronic crisis of huge proportions, one that keeps millions of Americans living in the shadows. Illiteracy is causing irreparable damage to our society. Just look at these disturbing illiteracy statistics.

Illiteracy Statistics

In a study of 20 ‘high income’ countries, the US ranked 12th on literacy tests. Illiteracy has become such a serious problem in our country that 44 million adults are now unable to read a simple story to their child. A few other shocking facts:

  • 7 million Americans are illiterate.
  • 50 percent of adults cannot read a book written at an eighth grade level.
  • 20 percent of Americans are functionally illiterate and read below a 5th grade level.
  • 30 million Americans cannot read a simple sentence.

How Illiteracy Affects Job Prospects

  • 3 out of 4 people on welfare cannot read.
  • 75 percent of today’s jobs require at least a ninth-grade reading level.
  • 27 million are unable to read well enough to complete a job application.
  • 20 percent of Americans read below the level needed to earn a living wage.
  • 50 percent of the unemployed people who fall between the ages of 16 and 21 cannot read well enough to be considered functionally literate.
  • Between 46 and 51 percent of American adults have an income well below the individual threshold poverty level because of their inability to read.
  • Of the Gross National Product, only 5.3 percent is spent on public education. 

How Illiteracy Affects Society

  • 3 out of 5 people in an American prison cannot read.
  • Low literacy is strongly related to crime. 70 percent of prisoners fall into the lowest two levels of reading proficiency.
  • 85 percent of juvenile offenders have problems reading.
  • Approximately 50 percent of Americans read so poorly that they are unable to perform simple tasks such as balancing a checkbook and reading prescription drug labels.
  • To determine how many prison beds will be needed in future years, some states actually base part of their projection on how well current elementary students are performing on reading tests.

How Illiteracy Costs Taxpayers

  • Illiteracy costs American taxpayers an estimated $20 billion each year.
  • Illiteracy has been proven to cause children to drop out of school. Dropouts cost our nation $240 billion in social service expenditures and lost tax revenues.

The Fight Against Illiteracy

The fight against illiteracy is a constant battle. Activists are working to strengthen education amongst young people and amongst adults. If you want to join the fight, there are numerous literacy organizations that accept volunteers and donations.

You can also help to prevent illiteracy by encouraging a young person in your life to read. The importance of reading to children cannot be over emphasized. In fact, reading children’s stories aloud is one of the most important activities we, as parents, grandparents, teachers, and care-givers, can do for our kids.

Trivani is supporting literacy efforts here in the United States. If you would like to make a difference in America by helping to end the cycle of family illiteracy, please consider changing your personal care products, and shop Trivani online today! Your decision to make one change is that simple, and it is that powerful!

 

In short, do your part. The fight against illiteracy is important. If we continue to ignore what is becoming a growing epidemic, we set our entire country up for failure.

Statistics for this article were obtained from the following sources: National Institute for Literacy, National Center for Adult Literacy, The Literacy Company, U.S. Census Bureau.
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17 Responses to “Illiteracy in America”

  1. Jon Wilke said

    What a fantastic site! Illiteracy is a major obstacle to bringing God’s Word to the world, 50% of which is unable to read.

    Here’s a couple more stats…
    Here in America, 58% of high school graduates will never read another book after completing school; 42% of college grads share this trait as well.

  2. Jon,
    Thank you for sharing those statistics! And boy are they upsetting to read! I honestly had no idea how big an issue illiteracy is, not just here in America, but worldwide.

    What I would like to know is- WHY? Why is this happening? Is it our school system that is failing the children? Obviously, parents play a part. But how do we, as a society, fix the problem so illiteracy is not an issue to begin with?

    I would love to hear others thoughts on this issue- please share…

    • Tery said

      We have to start reading to our children. If they are old enough, have them read to you. If you think about it our children are the first ones to hear any kind of words, and they come from us. We have to help the teachers out hear who are doing their jos while we are at our jobs. Give them some help in the education of our children. This is just my thoughts and I hope you find your way of helping whoever needs help.

  3. Jasmine Adkins said

    I am a student at Johnston Community College, majoring in applied science/ advertising and graphic design. Our last project of this semester is a social cause poster for the Literacy Council of Wake County. Our goal is to promote awareness of adult illiteracy, motivate adults with low literacy skills to seek help, and encourage people to help combat adult literacy by becoming volunteer tutors. Are there any posters your establishment has used to promote this cause? I would love for you to share them with me!

  4. candy4wayphonics said

    This is so sad! I am the President of Candy 4WAY Phonics. If you know of someone who cannot read and cannot afford the materials to learn how to read, please contact me. I will email them our reading program at no cost. And for just $5.00, I’ll send them an audio CD’rom for their computer where they can hear all the daily phonics lessons in the program read aloud — eliminating all the guesswork. This entire reading program sells for under $10 for those with normal incomes. Children CAN learn to read. Our company is making that easy and affordable! Here is my wordpress blog about this subject. http://candy4wayphonics.wordpress.com/

  5. Derrick Holyfield Th.D. said

    This site is very infomative,the one thing I learned in bible college is to motivate the church to always pick up a book and read it helped me.

  6. HIGHSCHOOL Senior said

    Well some say this is surprising but in this day in age I’ve lived through the school systems good and bad points and i consider myself a luck one. If you really think about it in the current teenage or younger society reading and studying and doing good in school is the “uncool” thing to do. The enviroment that you grow up in also plays a big part in it. When you thing about bad parents and gangs and bullies and such… well it’s disturbing and for most kids once they reach adulthood and are illiterate they most likely won’t learn to read. I’m doing my senior research project on this i hope people could understand how deep this hurts america…

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  8. Abigail Norton said

    I found this interesting piece while looking for information on a speech of mine and became instantly interested. I am twelve years old and became horrified at the amounts of illiterate people, being a writer myself. I couldn’t imagine that being illiterate was so closely related to lives leading to prison and welfare.
    Thank you for this.

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    Perhaps illiteracy in America is profitable.

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