Niagara Gazette

Opinion

June 5, 2013

BRADBERRY: The amazing joy of reading, learning: Summer lists

Niagara Gazette — “Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time.”

— From “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston, 1937

Every time I read “Their Eyes …” I find something new; that first line’s meaning keeps changing.

It was probably the comforting sound of my mother’s voice combined with the children’s stories she read aloud to us that ignited my life-long fascination with reading and storytelling.

A habit that has stuck with me for more than 60 long years, I’ve carried it over to many of the children and a few of the adults in my life today who appreciate sharing the amazing joy of reading, especially to each other.

It’s a good thing, reading is, a very good thing — but according to the National Adult Literacy Survey there are 40 million functionally illiterate adults in America today.

A report recently published by Do Something (dosomething.org) recently published Eleven Facts About Literacy in America:

1. Two-thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare. Over 70 percent of America’s inmates cannot read above a 4th grade level.

2. One in four children in America grows up without learning how to read.

3. As of 2011, America was the only free-market OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) country where the current generation was less well educated than the previous.

4. Literacy is a learned skill. illiteracy is passed down from parents who can neither read nor write.

5. Nearly 85 percent of the juveniles who face trial in the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate, proving that there is a close relationship between illiteracy and crime. More than 60 percent of all inmates are functionally illiterate.

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