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Why Literacy?

We may take reading skills for granted. But millions of people in America

cannot read the words on a restaurant menu. When ability is equal to learn

the art of reading, what hold so many people back?  This question has been the subject of many research projects. Read Seed was started based on this wealth of research findings. Bottom line is that all children despite race, ethnicity, family socioeconomic and education levels can learn to read IF..children have books in the home.

Literacy Facts

11 Facts: Literacy in America

1. An estimated 30 million Americans over 16 years old cannot perform simple and everyday literacy activities.
2. 55% of adults with below basic reading comprehension did not graduate high school
3.  Only an estimated 13% of adult Americans can perform complex and challenging literacy activities.
4. Washington DC and Seattle are the country's most literate cities.
5. Children in families with incomes below the poverty line are less likely to be read aloud to everyday than are children in families with incomes at or above the poverty line.
6. Effective 2009, the United States was more literate than Italy, China and Greece (according to a report done by the United Nations Development Programme), but was trumped by Georgia, Ukraine, Latvia, Barbados, Poland, Hungary and Turkmenistan.
7. 60% of America's prison inmates are functionally illiterate and 85% of all juvenile offenders have reading problems.
8. Approximately 50% of the nation's unemployed youth age 16-21 are functionally illiterate, with virtually no prospects of obtaining good jobs.
9. 54% of all teachers have limited English proficient (LEP) students in their classrooms, yet only one-fifth of teachers feel very prepared to serve them.
10. It is estimated that more than $2 billion is spent each year on students who repeat a grade because they have reading problems.
11. 85% of unwed mothers and 68% of those arrested have low literacy skills.

National Center for Education Statistics
USA Today


Economic Impact of  Illiteracy

  $ and Sense  

     Illiteracy costs the United States more than $225 billion a year in lost productivity. It is tied to unemployment, crime, poverty, and family problems.

     75 percent of unemployed adults have reading and/or writing difficulties.

     60 percent of all juvenile offenders have problems reading.

    $5 billion is spent each year on welfare and unemployment compensation due to illiteracy.

 The Economics of Literacy

• An adult without a high school diploma earns 42% less than an adult with a high school diploma.
• High school dropouts have an unemployment rate 4 times greater than that of high school graduates.
• 50% of Fortune 500 companies underwrite remedial employee training in the basic skills at an annual cost of $300 million a year.
• GM devotes more than 15% of the $170 million it spends yearly on job training to remedial education.
• It is estimated that limited literacy skills cost business and taxpayers $20 billion in lost wages, profits, and productivity annually.
• 50% of the chronically unemployed are not functionally literate.
• 75% of the nation's prison inmates do not have a high school diploma.
• The military spends $70 million on basic skills remediation for recruits.
• 33% of all welfare recipients are not considered to be functionally literate.
• 84% of unemployed fathers and 82% of all unemployed mothers lack a high school diploma.


Why Books

Literacy and Children

     Helping low-literate adults improve their basic skills has a direct and measurable impact on both the education and quality of life of their children.
     46% of parents read to their children every day.
     62% of parents with a high socio-economic status read to their children daily compared to 36% with low socio-economic status.

     Children who are read to at least three times per week by a family member are almost twice as likely to score in the top 25% in standardized reading exams as children who are read to less than three times per week.

     For 90-95% of poor readers, prevention and early intervention programs that combine instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, spelling, reading fluency, and reading comprehension can increase reading skills to average reading levels. -National Institute of Child Health & Human Development

Books In The Home


“The only behavior measure that correlates significantly with reading scores is the number of books in the home.  An analysis of national data set of nearly 100,000 United States school children found that access to printed materials - and not poverty - is the “critical variable affecting reading acquisition.” McQuillan, Jeff, The Literacy Crisis: False Claims, Real Solutions, 1998

For America’s poorest children, the biggest obstacle to literacy may be the scarcity of books and appropriate reading material.Needlman, R (1991). Clinic Based Intervention to Promote Literacy, American Journal of Diseases of Children, Vol. 145, August, 1991, 881-884:

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