As I mentioned in my previous post on literacy, being illiterate doesn’t just mean leaving a paperback out of your beach bag. The cycle of illiteracy affects society as a whole as it impacts employment rates and incarceration levels. On a personal level, adults who are functionally illiterate cannot read maps, complete a job application, fill out an insurance form, or understand the directions on their medication.
Research into literacy shows that it is never too early to start breaking this cycle. From the day they are born (and even a little before then) babies benefit from being read to. Not only do they exhibit better language skills as they get older (unsurprisingly), children who are read to as babies have higher math scores as well.
Books for Babies is a national literacy program that is working to make books available to all families. Parents of newborns are given a kit that contains tips for reading to babies, literacy information, a board book, and a library card.
Having just discovered this program myself, I’ll be looking into it and reporting back with my findings. In the meantime, feel free to do some digging on your own and see what early literacy programs your community has. Your local library is a great place to start. If they don’t have any programs currently, you can start one! The Books for Babies website linked to above is a great place to look for advice on getting started.
14% of the American population is illiterate.
You can help change that.