It was English Philosopher Francis Bacon, who said: “Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man and writing an exact man”. But statistics still show that 44 million Americans are functionally illiterate and read below the 4th grade level. According to a number of sources, poor readers weaken their communities in a number of ways. Statistically, it has been shown that there is a link between literacy, crime and violence. In one particular city, listed among the ten cities with the highest crime levels in America, national literacy statistics show that 38% of adult residents are unable to read, or they read below the fourth grade level, and only 38.5 % of school aged residents graduate high school. With these hard facts, it doesn’t take much to see a strong correlation between literacy levels and the city’s crime rate.

Additionally, poor readers weaken their communities because oftentimes, their level of literacy is not adequate enough for them to gain employment, and in instances where they do find employment, compensation is often well below the poverty line. In a previous blog, it was stated that the personal capita income of the most literate city-Washington- almost doubled the per capita income of the nation’s most illiterate city- Long Beach, California.

It is no wonder then, that poverty stricken communities are often the ones with many poor readers. A society is only as strong as its weakest members and if we want to strengthen the fabric of our communities we have to start from the ground up by ensuring that our youth have a solid reading foundation. How can we do this? By becoming engaged in the literacy delivery process on a formal and informal basis.

Do the civic and social organizations of which you are affiliated have or support a youth literacy outreach initiative? Will you make a commitment to play a part in strengthening the moral and economic fabric of your community? We all can make a positive contribution to the future of our society.

If you would like to learn more about ways that you can get involve in literacy outreach, join the conversation on the Little Flower Literacy and Economics Radio Show each Thursday morning at 10:30 AM CST, at

The show highlights the connection between illiteracy, economics and communities, and offers solutions to securing funding for community development initiatives that address the youth illiteracy problem.

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