The need for literacy in modern society
Reading is important because most of mankind's knowledge has been written somewhere. It is not possible to walk on a street without seeing words in store windows or on street signs. Modern men and women must be able to read to be successful in their jobs, but according to a US government report, The State of Literacy in America, released by the National Institute for Literacy (NIL), nearly one out of two adults, are functionally illiterate. Out of 191 million adults in the US, as many as 44 million cannot read a newspaper or fill out a job application. Another 50 million more cannot read or comprehend above the eighth grade level.
Encourage children to read
From an early age, children are placed in front of a television or exposed to video games. The non-stop action and active visual stimulation by the flickering screen is thought to be responsible for attention deficit disorder and other cognitive impairments in children. Marketing pressures from manufacturers of games and demand created by peer pressure are often the major reasons why parents buy video games for children. However, even educational programs have been shown to be harmful because they reduce the personal interaction of children and result in smaller vocabularies. A better approach to education is for a parent to read to a child, and then let the child read the words.
Positive and negative role models
One researcher pointed out that statistically, the chance that an inner city child will eventually serve time in prison is just as great as the chance of a suburban child to graduate from high school and go to college. Negative environments with drugs and unemployment are certainly detrimental for learning anything. Children have to be provided with a harmonious atmosphere and they have to be exposed to positive role models and to people who succeeded by learning.
Poverty and lack of opportunity are the primary reasons why people do not learn to read early. The death of the breadwinner in the family may force the children to start work at an early age without having had the opportunity to learn. Sometimes, young people squander the opportunity to learn by partying too much and not paying attention to their future. These people may end up in menial jobs which are unsatisfying. A person with strong motivation will be able to improve himself or herself by attending night school or home-education classes. Persistence will eventually pay off.
English as a second language
People who are forced to leave their country for economic or political reasons may end up being illiterate in English if they don't have special language training. There are some neighborhoods that have had a large influx of Latin American immigrants. In these areas, Spanish is the predominant language. There is great demand for learning English as a second language. Many public libraries have workshops where English-speaking volunteers, many of them retired, teach newcomers the language and the customs of the United States.