The Joy of Literacy
Posted by Addison Fox Oct 16 2012, 12:01 am
I was fortunate enough to participate in an event this past weekend called Buns and Roses. This was my third year to participate as an author, but I’ve attended the event long before that as a reader. Buns and Roses is the annual fundraiser for the Richardson Adult Literacy Center, a resource in the Dallas area. I was also fortunate to share the event with several of my Ruby Sisters – Diane Kelly, Darynda Jones, Liz Talley, Elizabeth Essex.
Each year, the folks from RALC share the alarming statistics of literacy in the United States. While the organization’s focus is on helping those in the Richardson community, the services RALC offers are found in communities across the country. And in each and every case, you find the same realities that these warriors for the word are fighting against:
** It’s estimated 93 million adults in the U.S. have Basic or Below Basic literacy skills.
** Adults living in poverty are more likely to be functioning with Basic or Below Basic literacy skills.
** More than 1 million incarcerated adults have below average literacy skills.
** Foreign-born adults who come to the United States are more likely to have below average literacy skills.
Sarah MacLean gave an incredibly touching and stirring keynote on literacy and it got me thinking (it also got me rather teary-eyed, along with everyone else in the room!) What would my life be like if I didn’t have experience with the written word?
The stories I’d have missed out on. The professional opportunities that would have been closed to me. The basic sense of direction I have when I drive around my community or any other. The joy of reading to my niece. The memory of reading my early easy-reader to my grandfather. Exchanging love letters with an old boyfriend. Reading my birthday cards. Writing and sending Christmas cards.
These and so many other memories – where the written word was essential to the experience – would have simply been lost to me.
The good news is that we can do something about this. There are organizations like RALC and so many others across the country. ProLiteracy is an organization the Romance Writers of America have supported for years with the annual “Readers For Life” booksigning at the RWA National conference. Their site is a wealth of information from how to donate to how to share your time to educate others.
Increasing literacy in our communities helps us all. And best of all, it will give illiterate individuals the opportunity to read their next birthday card. Or fill out their next job application. Or share the joy of reading that great book that’s sitting atop the bestseller list and had you up on the edge of your seat all night.
If you’re reading this, please consider how you could contribute to this important work. And if now’s not the right time for you, please spread the word to your loved ones about the importance of this cause.