Magic of Storytelling

Magic of Storytelling and Literacy Education is a vital part of any society’s educational needs and goals. Around the world, many people cannot read or write a single sentence making the illiteracy rate surprising to some. Typically, in most industrialized nations, the literacy rate of persons over the age of fifteen is 90 percent or above.

However, the definition of literacy can be quite misleading. It has been estimated that while 99% of persons over the age of fifteen in the United States are able to write their names, and read some words, certain studies have estimated that 40 to 50% of adults are functionally illiterate.

The phrase functional illiterate describes persons fifteen and older who cannot read well enough to comprehend a daily newspaper or to be able to read well enough for understand a basic contract, or a simple letter about their children’s health or school needs, or pamphlets that come with prescription drugs about precautions and possible side effects.

Certainly, being illiterate makes it pretty difficult for persons to obtain or hold decently-paying employment or to take care of family members, factors that all contribute to poverty.

Other studies have demonstrated that the functional illiteracy rates in the United States are not as high as 40 to 50 percent across the population, but the studies do acknowledge that in certain impoverished regions of the country, as many as one-third of the residents are functionally illiterate.

Even if the statistical rates of literacy (in its functional form) may vary in various studies, it is clear that many adults in our country are very poor readers. This has tremendous implications for employers and social service programs.

Employers need to have an educated workforce to perform well in various jobs that bring revenue to a community. People who cannot read well enough to have a good job are more likely to need social services assistance, which costs taxpayers more money.

Therefore, it is important that literacy education is promoted as a highly important need for all communities. Literacy education needs to begin from early childhood, with parents spending time talking to and reading to even the youngest of children.

Additionally, early learning programs are a vital part of literacy education for young children to prepare them to read once school begins. In addition to a literacy program, other programs such as early identification of those with learning disorders are also critical for children to get the help that they need before they fall too far behind in reading.

However, many older people did not receive the appropriate education and intervention and are now struggling to read well enough to function in society as well. A literacy program can be a vital component of any community.

Literacy can certainly be achieved in adolescents and adults, even in the elderly. It is very challenging to go back and learn later in life, as the brain is more receptive to learning concepts of language and literacy more readily before the age of eight.

Literacy education covers the areas of phonics, sight recognition of letters and words, spelling, writing, and reading comprehension. Many literacy education programs are aimed at practical applications, and classes often practice reading job applications, newspapers, simple contracts, and medical information.

Adults, in particular, require a great deal of emotional support to avoid having them get frustrated and give up too easily. Those who teach a literacy program to adolescents and adults do not always need to be certified teachers. Many programs have had great success with trained volunteers who learn specific techniques to provide literacy education to older persons.

With clear direction and a committed staff, a literacy program can be a tremendous help for any community which wants to increase its numbers of functionally literate adults who can participate fully in the workforce and have a greater success in life.