Library program promotes adult literacy, reading

Published 8:35 pm Friday, March 4, 2011

The Demopolis Public Library has started an adult literacy program to help adults in Marengo County and surrounding areas improve their lives and communities through literacy.

In Alabama, 3.4 million or 15 percent of Alabama residents are illiterate. Alabama’s Level 1 functionally illiterate rate is 25 percent. In other words, one out of four people function at the lowest literacy level in Alabama.  Forty three percent of adults with low literacy skills live in poverty. Forty percent of children entering fourth grade are unable to read at grade level. Half of all welfare recipients do not have a high school diploma or GED. Seventy percent of Alabama’s inmates are functionally illiterate and 75 percent of small business owners in Alabama report that many applicants for job openings do not have basic reading, writing and math skills.

Literacy skills impact every aspect of adult life. Adults who are more literate are more likely to: Read to their children and discuss school topics; Be employed full time and receive a higher income; Use the Internet and email; Vote, volunteer, and access information about current local and national events. The goal of Project Reaching Every Adult Directly (R.E.A.D. ) is to help members of the community improve their lives by becoming functionally literate.

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“A library patron, Kathryn Gardner, created the idea of a literacy program and thought the Demopolis Public Library would be the best place to serve the community,” says library director Morgan Grimes. “Kathryn is the volunteer coordinator for the program and has been instrumental in getting this program started and making it successful.”

Julia Chancy, coordinator for the Shelton State Project Literacy, advised the library on starting a literacy program and led a training workshop for volunteers.

“We now have 10 volunteers and four students involved in Project R.E.A.D.,” Grimes said. “Two generous donations from organizations in our area have enabled the library to purchase materials for the students and teachers.”

Linda Craig volunteered as a teacher for the Tuscaloosa literacy program and is now volunteering with Project R.E.A.D. and helping the Demopolis Library train new volunteers.

“The project is growing,” Grimes said, “and the power of literacy is beginning to change lives and improve our community.”

You can help the project by becoming a volunteer tutor and teaching someone to read, offering your support by contributing financially, or referring an adult you know who needs help with reading and writing skills. For more information, please contact Morgan Grimes at 334-289-1595.