Living longer and keeping money in your pocket can come down to being able to read.
There are an estimated 500 thousand illiterate adults in Alabama, but a new program at Huntsville Hospital is working to bring down that number.
The Huntsville Hospital Foundation‘s Birthday Books program gives every newborn a copy of “Goodnight Moon.” It means starting from day one to build a skill that could impact your entire life.
Reports show illiteracy is linked to poorer health and higher dependence on welfare assistance because people aren’t able to read health information and are more likely to drop out of school.
“I’ve honestly heard of people that would not take a job promotion because they knew there’d be more paperwork and they couldn’t fill it out,” said Rhonda Andrews, executive director with the Learn-to-Read Council of Athens and Limestone County.
People come to Andrews’ tutoring rooms unable to read signs or medicine bottles, but they still get by. The Literacy Council of West Alabama reports one in four adults in the state are functionally illiterate.
Huntsville Hospital, teaming up with the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library, is getting a head start on changing that number by getting books into hands.
“Studies have shown that generally by third grade if children haven’t been exposed to a certain number of words or early literacy skills where they’re looking at the print and picture awareness and understanding that words and pictures have meaning, it really can impact their later success in school,” said Mandy Pinyan, manager of outreach services with the library.
The Ready Read program brings Pinyan to 90 classrooms a month to get kids excited about reading. Pinyan is fighting illiteracy from the beginning just as Andrews is by giving hope to adults.
“They still become more confident in what they’re able to do,” Andrews said.
Madison County’s illiteracy rate is reportedly about ten percent. There are apparently 37 other states that have better literacy rankings.
Contact the Learn-to-Read Council of Athens and Limestone County at 256-230-3050.