• minman





As you know if you have read my previous articles, my sign off line is,”ENCOURAGING LITERACY AND LEARNING”

This is the mission of this blog in addition to finding and previewing products and programs that will address this focus. With this article we would like to take a new direction down THE WORD ROAD and discuss a national problem and perhaps raise the awareness of the situation and possibly aim for some solutions to the challenge.

I am going to make a bold statement based on my experience and observations: “I DON’T THINK THERE IS ANYTHING SADDER THAN AN ADULT WHO CAN’T READ!”


To back up my statement allow me to quote from a national website, DoSomething.org, “11 Facts About Literacy in America:

1- 2/3 of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare. Over 70% of America’s inmates cannot read above a 4th grade level.

2- 1 in 4 children in America grow up without learning to read.

3- Students who don’t read proficiently by the 3rd grade are 4 times likelier to drop out of school.

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

5- Nearly 85% 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% of all inmates are functionally illiterate.

6- 53% of 4th graders admitting to reading recreationally “almost every day”, while only 20% of 8th graders could say the same.

7- 75% of Americans who receive food stamps perform at the lowest 2 levels of literacy, and 90% of high school dropouts are on welfare.

8- Teenage girls between the ages of 16 to 19 who live at or below the poverty line and have below average skills are more likely to have children out of wedlock than girls their age who can read proficiently.

9- Reports show that the rate of low literacy in the U.S. directly costs the health care industry over $70 million every year.

10- In 2013, Washington,D.C. was ranked the most literate American city for the 3rd year in a row, with Seattle and Minneapolis close behind.

11- Long Beach, Ca was the most illiterate city, followed by Mesa, AZ and Aurora, Co.


From www.huffpost.com dated 9/6/2013, updated 11/27/2017, “According to a study by the U.S. Department of Education, 32 million adults in the U.S. can’t read.

The current literacy rate isn’t any better than it was 10 years ago.

We probably don’t need to spell out the benefits of reading and writing. Economic security, access to health care, and the ability to actively participate in civic life all depend on an individual’s ability to read.”

Another one, from www.foxnews.com: “Illiteracy is a national emergency unfolding across America, and it is only getting worse.” By Raymand Arroyo, Fox News.

Continuing: “While people argue over the president declaring the situation at the border a national emergency, they ignore the national emergency in every town and school district in America. More than 30 million Americans cannot read or write above a third grade level.

Boys are doing worse than girls. They lag behind in basic reading skills by 10 per cent. That gap increases by age. By 12th grade, girls are two times more likely to score higher on reading tests than boys.”


Let me relate a story I once read about a man who had a life long problem — he could not read!

This man lived the first six years of his life being honest. But from age 6 on he started to dodge the truth about not being able to read or write.

There were several factors that contributed to his situation; he had auditory-discrimination problems which interfered with his ability to process language.

The family moved around a lot, living in 35 homes and attended 18 high schools while his father – a teacher- tried to find his ideal work situation.

As he progressed through school, teachers would assure his parents that he would eventually become able to make the necessary brain connections to be able to read and write.

The young man became more and more frustrated and angry, he acted out and was a real behavior problem.

However, as he progressed through high school he became more and more popular and also developed himself as a great basketball player, all the while trying to hide his problem through some desperate and creative ways. Along the way he associated with the college prep crowd and even dated popular girls.

Through his skills on the basketball court he was offered an athletic scholarship and somehow as a struggling reader graduated from college and got a teaching job as a social studies and drivers ed instructor.

After he was married and had a family his wife heard him struggling to read a simple story to their young daughter.

After 17 years as a teacher, he left the classroom and became a real estate developer. One day he heard Barbara Bush advocating her adult literacy program. He finally had the courage to reveal the false life he had been living, not being able to read.


His name is John Corcoran.

Quoting from: www.johncorcoranfoundation.org:

“John Corcoran’s professional career represents a merger of his life as a teacher, real estate investor, his building and development experiences and his passion for a literate America. His background in teaching demonstrates his knowledge and experience with others.”

He is also fortunate to have a granddaughter, Kayla Mertes as the executive director of his foundation, John Corcoran foundation.

You can read the rest of his amazing story through the aforementioned website, but here it is again, www.johncorcoranfoundation.org.

You have heard the old saying, “making lemonade out of lemons”? Here is a man and his family who are doing something about a serious national problem.

A Great Story!


We have a young man in our neighborhood that we greatly admire. He is a handsome young man with a very outstanding personality. He is a young man who is loved by the whole neighborhood. This young man is a special needs student who struggles with Cerebral Palsy and other problems.

On Mother’s Day in our local church congregation he gave an outstanding talk. He thanked both grandmothers and his Mom for reading to him as he was growing up.

From an article in Credit Donkey, www.creditdonkey.org/illiteracy-in-America, entitled “Shocking Facts: 23 Statistics on Illiteracy in America, fact 12 of 23 asks: “Can reading to children make a difference?”

The answer: “Reading to kids early on can help boost literacy rates over the long term. An estimated 77% of children who are read to are more likely to read or attempted to read on their own, versus 57% of kids who don’t have regular story time at home.”

Reading to my own children when they were young and reading to my grandchildren has always been one of my favorite activities.

In other words, it takes a village to make a difference!

So, my advice is to start now especially when they are young and have regular reading time.

Another very important thing to do if you have the time is to become a volunteer tutor, either for children or adults. A great service activity for a retired person.

In my previous posts you can get more ideas to do your part, however insignificant it may be.

In future articles we will be featuring programs and products for the enhancement of reading.

Thank you for reading!

Michael Inman



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