Why Literacy In The U.S. Is So Important

One of my earliest memories as a child is the memory of literature. From Dr. Seuss to Steinbeck, there was always some type of literature being recited in my ear by my parents, even at a young age. At 2, I had heard Dr. Seuss’ "The Big Brag" at least 100 times; by 4, my mind had been opened to the world of cruelty and prejudice toward the mentally unstable through John Steinbeck’s "Of Mice and Men," and at the early age of 6, my opportunities in literature expanded as I began reading book after book by myself. The magic of literacy gives readers an opportunity to go on mental adventures, experience heartbreak and true love, and be a bystander in any story imagined. Reading is more than just a way to pass time when you have nothing better to do; the ability to read could possibly help a person become a functioning member of society.

Literacy is a crucial aspect of human life. According to begintoread.com, two out of three students who cannot read proficiently by the end of the fourth grade end up in jail or on welfare. This distressing statistic points to the importance that reading has on the lives of individual children long after they have grown up and left the classroom. Literacy helps students experience real life problems without being the person causing the problems, helping them to learn from mistakes of their favorite characters rather than their own destructive experiences.

Being able to read and write not only helps students function properly in society, but also strengthens the bond between parent and child. The responsibility of teaching a student to read and write should not lie solely in the hands of the teacher. The eighth U.S. educational goal in Goals 2000 states that, "every school will promote partnerships that will increase parental involvement and participation in promoting the social, emotional and academic growth of children" (GOALS 2000 — The Clinton Administration Education Program).

Children who are taught at school and at home are more likely to succeed in life than those who are not. Being read to as a child by my mother taught me to fall in love with the characters I was hearing about and have true compassion for those around me. With a parent who read to me so often, when it came time for me to be able to read willingly by myself, the joy of literature was already instilled in my heart. By the time I reached fifth grade, I was reading at an 11th grade level because of the time I spent reading with my family at home.

According to www.livescience.com, 14 percent of United States adults cannot read, and 298,000 adults in Arkansas alone function at below basic literacy skills. Students, teachers and parents need to work as hard as they possibly can to ensure that in the future, these two numbers decline drastically to result in a brighter, happier future filled with mental adventure, less crime and enchanted minds.

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