A few days ago I was scrolling around the internet with a friend. We looked at funny memes and expressed our horror over a few egregious headlines. However, one set of statistics stopped us dead in our tracks.
The graphic stated that one third of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives! Even 42% college graduates never read another book after college.
It continued to state that 57% of new books are not read to completion. 70% of US adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years! And worst of all, 80% of US families did not buy or read a book last year.
Why is Literacy Important?
Both my friend and I are avid book readers. And we perhaps understood that not everyone loves reading as much as we do, but these statistics were simply shocking.
This info-graphic launched a long discussion on the importance of reading and the resources necessary to both inspire and support reading. We learned that not only do people lack an interest in reading, but many people cannot read or struggle to read.
According to the most recent study by the National Assessment of Adult Literacy in 2003, 14% of adults in the United States demonstrate a “below basic” literacy level, and 29% demonstrated a “basic” reading level.
Illiteracy has long-term and potentially dangerous consequences. As the Department of Justice explains, “the link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded to reading failure.”
The statistics are overwhelmingly supportive of this claim. According to BegingToRead.com, 85% of all juveniles who interact with the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate. And over 70% of inmates in America’s prison system cannot read above a fourth grade level.
Unsurprisingly, illiteracy can also have drastic impacts on employment, income, job quality, healthcare, financial literacy, and even self-esteem and mental health.
If you’re someone like me who finds no greater comfort than a good book, you may be motivated to do something about these troubling statistics! The following four non-profits are here to help. Each one is tackling the importance of literacy in a different way. Find one that speaks to you and join the cause.
Making a Global Impact on Illiteracy with Room to Read
Room to Read is fueled by the following statement: “World Change Starts With Educated Children.”
This charity, which has a 4 star rating by Charity Navigator, has affected the lives of 11.6 million children around the world. They partner with local communities, organizations and governments to establish the importance of reading, develop literacy skills and establish the habit of reading with primary school children.
They also support girls that are completing secondary school with life skills and the necessary resources to succeed.
Room to Read is currently working in ten countries worldwide: South Africa, Zambia, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
Among the long list of impressive accomplishments by Room to Read include: 9,232 librarians and teachers trained, 18 million books distributed, 1,300 children books published, and an impressive 9.5 books checked out per student.
An investment in this charity could send a girl to school, establish a library, build a new classroom, or so much more. Visit www.roomtoread.org & check them out!
Worldreader, the Tech-Savvy Literacy Non-Profit
Worldreader is tackling the problem of illiteracy in a very unique way. With a focus on the impact on technology, this charity is attempting to change the world with e-books.
By partnering with device manufacturers, publishers, government agencies, education officials, and local organizations, they have accumulated a massive digital library of over 42,000 books in 43 different languages. This library is provided free to people in the developing world to promote literacy and reading.
However, Worldreader is also fighting illiteracy by more traditional methods as well. The nonprofit has delivered nearly 5 million books to 438 different schools and libraries in Africa.
They have also facilitated the access to e-readers by distributing 27,210 e-readers throughout different developing nations. Plus, noticing a trend of reading on a smart phone, they launched a reading app that provides access to their vast library.
Worldreader provides many opportunities to make a difference—from sponsoring a school to traveling abroad to help reading summits and schools. Find out more at www.worldreader.org!
Bolstering Reading in Communities with Little Free Library
This nonprofit is as charming as it is effective. You may have seen a cute house-shaped bookshelf on your neighborhood stroll or commute to work. These are little free libraries!
Little Free Libraries is a charity that promotes the “give one, take one” philosophy of book sharing, which makes reading and improved literacy more affordable, inspires the love of reading, strengthens communities, and fosters creativity.
This charity was started only eight years ago in 2009 and has since seen a dramatic blossoming of support and activity. Over 50,000 little free libraries now exist in all 50 states of the U.S. and in 70 countries worldwide.
A recent survey by Little Free Libraries showed that 74% of people reported that they have read a book they normally would not have read because of Little Free Library. 73% of people said they have met more neighbors because of Little Free Library. And 92% of people say their neighborhood feels like a friendlier place because of a Little Free Library.
If you are interested in creating a Little Free Library in your community or want to support the cause, check out www.littlefreelibary.org.
Project Night Night is Providing Books to Those Most In Need
Did you know that there are currently more homeless children in the United States than at any other time since the Great Depression? Project Night Night is a charity that is helping to provide valuable resources to homeless children in America.
This charity has a mission of easing the stress of homelessness on children by providing Night Night packages. Each package contains children’s books, stuffed animals, and security blankets all within a new canvas tote bag.
This charity distributes 25,000 Night Night Packages to homeless children each year. Over 10,000 volunteers work with Project Night Night to improve their communities annually. And over 250,000 children’s books have been donated since 2005.
If you are interested in supporting this charity’s important mission, head over to www.projectnightnight.org.