The Constitution

Ciara Callicottt, Columnist

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The ability to read is incredibly vital in a person’s daily life, and while there seems to be the assumption that reading is only useful and needs to be taken seriously if one’s future entails college or further education, being literate affects driving ability and something as simple as obtaining food. It’s no secret America has a literacy problem. In California, more than half of all adults are not proficient readers and 6,151,072 (almost 1 in 5) have not earned a high school diploma or its equivalent. The Literacy Action of Central Arkansas initiative states that 145,000 adults in Central Arkansas cannot read this sentence. With these statistics, it is fairly obvious that reading is fundamental to a better society. For my first installment in the Reading is Fundamental column, the emphasis will be on personal accounts on why reading is so important.

For Jason Bailey, a physics teacher at Parkview High School, he believes as a society we are encompassed by our inability to listen to others, creating a lack of empathy among humans. “The greatest cure for this, of course, is travelling, but there are a lot of people who can’t afford that”, Bailey states. “The next best solution is reading, [it] broadens your perspective, takes you to places you could never go on your own, and teaches people to critically think.”

Young adults like junior Rebecca Dixon agree with Bailey’s ideas. Her observations about the world we live in are that “people are closed minded today and are only aware of the issues and happenings of their socio-economic groups”. Reading is important to help people understand more about others, especially in today’s technology dependent society that tends to cultivate an introspective outlook.

The literacy issue is being combatted currently by local libraries everywhere, who offer instruction, book clubs, and the resources needed to become literate. Literacy Works tells the story of how learning to read through the library changed one adult man’s life:

“Take Enrique, an adult with low literacy skills who was living in the Bay Area with few prospects to find a well-paying job to support his family. Then he stumbled upon a library literacy program that gave him the fundamentals to increase his workplace skills, which helped him secure a job with a national airline. ‘When you go into a literacy program, you come out reading. You come out literate. And you never go back,’ he says.”

The literacy issue has been continuous and prominent in American society, and libraries prove to be a viable solution that need more recognition and must be taken advantage of.


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