2/3 of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade, will end up in jail or on welfare.
We’ve recently put our reading program U CAN CONNECT in a local Boys and Girls Club and it has been so rewarding. I discovered a whole new group of kids to admire – those who functionally cannot read but they’re so willing to try. One third grade boy with a bright smile and dark tousled hair looked me in the eye and said, “You gotta to teach me to read or I’m going to be junk.”
Sadly, he’s right.
Year after year we hear these sad statistics but if we don’t know a low reader, we don’t think much about them. When a child is unable to read on grade level by the 4th grade, it affects ALL of us.
These statistics are not made-up statistics by publishers of children’s books or by tutoring companies – they are the yearly national facts pulled from court documents and employment records.
Here are the most-recent facts:
85 % of all juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate.
More than 60 % of all prison inmates are functionally illiterate.
Penal institution records show that inmates have a 16% chance of returning to prison if they receive literacy help, as opposed to 70% who receive no help. This equates to taxpayer costs of $25,000 per year per inmate and nearly double that amount for juvenile offenders.
Illiteracy and crime are closely related. The Department of Justice states, “The link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded to reading failure.” Over 70% of inmates in America’s prisons cannot read above a fourth grade level.
Many of the USA ills are directly related to illiteracy. Just a few statistics:
Literacy is learned. Illiteracy is passed along by parents who cannot read or write.
One child in four grows up not knowing how to read.
43% of adults with low literacy skills live in poverty compared to only 4% of those with good reading skills
3 out of 4 food stamp recipients perform in the lowest 2 literacy levels
90% of welfare recipients are high school dropouts
Low literary costs $73 million per year in terms of direct health care costs. A recent study by Pfizer put the cost much higher.
These are staggering costs for our society and they do affect each and every one of us.
Want to help?
Look around in your community for opportunities to work with these low readers. Some ideas are the Boys and Girls Clubs, residential drug programs that house families, afterschool programs, Big Brother/Big Sister program and homeless family shelters.
This one simple solution will help children learn to read:
Choose a book that is on his/her reading level, not grade level. Read it together in this way: You read the first sentence while the child follows along. Then, both of you read the same sentence together. Then the child reads the sentence all by himself. This teaches the sounds of the words, the feel of fluent reading and the sight recognition of the words.
We all can change the sad face of illiteracy in this country, one child at a time.
photo credit© Can Stock Photo Inc. / gajdamak
photo credit© Can Stock Photo Inc. / txking
photo credit© Can Stock Photo Inc. / julos