6 Surprising Facts about Literacy



1.  Illiteracy is still a major problem, even in 2015:  The World Literacy Foundation estimates that around 781 million people in the world are illiterate.  Around 500 million of these people are women.  Some studies have shown that functional illiteracy may be an even bigger problem than complete illiteracy, with nearly half the adults in the United States considered functionally illiterate. (Source)

2. Native speakers struggle with literacy too: According to the US Department of Education’s National Association of Adult Literacy study from 2003,  21% to 23% of adult Americans were not “able to locate information in text”, could not “make low-level inferences using printed materials”, and were unable to “integrate easily identifiable pieces of information.” (Source)

3.  Is there a relationship between reading and health? According to OECD Skills Outlook 2013 First Results from the Survey of Adult Skills, people aged 16 to 65 who reported being in poor physical health scored lower in document literacy than did those reporting better health. (Source)

4.  Books at home:  One of the most accurate predictors of a child’s future reading ability is the number of books in a child’s home.  It’s might be even more important than the parents’ education level. (Source)

5.  Literacy requires maintenance:  Literacy is a skill that must be continually used in order to be maintained.  A person’s literacy level can vary over the course of their lifetime depending on how much (or how little) they continue to read. (Source)

6.  Literacy rates affect society:    Is there a link between anti-social behavior and illiteracy? Studies have shown a strong relationship between low literacy levels and a person’s involvement in the juvenile detention system. For adults, 60% of inmates read at or below a fourth-grade level.  Literacy intervention for incarcerated youth may lead to improvement in future outcomes. (Source)