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Library program helps adults improve reading skills

Statistics show that 15 percent of Alabama residents cannot read this sentence.

In fact, one of every four Alabamians is functionally illiterate, meaning they lack basic reading, writing and math computation skills.

Most of these people are poor — 43 percent of adults who have trouble reading live in poverty. It’s estimated that 50 percent of welfare recipients do not have a high school diploma or GED.

It’s also a cycle that continues for generations — 65 percent of children of illiterate parents will grow up unable to read too.

The Demopolis Public Library hopes to improve literacy rates in the surrounding area with a program called Project R.E.A.D.

The acronym stands for Reaching Every Adult Directly, and the project’s goal is to help community members improve their lives by becoming better readers.

“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,” said library director Morgan Allen. “Our volunteers see the need and importance of reducing illiteracy in our community. We are trying to empower as many people as possible through improved literacy skills.”

Since starting R.E.A.D. in 2011, the library has had 18 volunteers help tutor nine individuals.

“You can help us continue to make this project a success 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,” Allen said.

For more information, contact Allen at (334) 289-1595 or morgan.grimes@demopolisal.gov.