September is National Literacy Month! The National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) defines literacy as "the ability to use printed and written information to function in society, to achieve one's goals, and to develop one's knowledge and potential." The definition of literacy has broadened in recent years to reflect the understanding that many skills for comprehending information are required in today's world, including not just a basic reading ability but also numeracy, digital literacy, document literacy, multilingual literacy and cultural literacy.
Literacy in the U.S. Today
Literacy is an issue of national concern, especially in the wake of the COVID pandemic and the social disruption it caused. In recent years, progress in improving literacy in the U.S. may have stalled. As of 2023, 21% of adults in the country have low literacy skills. As Library Journal reports, low literacy can have negative impacts in such areas of life as health, employment, and wealth accumulation.
The local programs listed below pair reading students with volunteer tutors. These are wonderful resources if you know someone who needs help learning to read, or if you are interested in volunteering! In addition, SJPL has extensive resources to help tutors. Please explore the local programs and book list below.
For Adult Learners
- San José Public Library hosts Partners in Reading (PAR)
- Santa Clara County Library District hosts The Reading Program
- Santa Clara City Library hosts Read Santa Clara
For Child Learners
The Reading Partners program, a national nonprofit organization with a presence in Silicon Valley, engages volunteers to help teach students at under-resourced schools to read at grade level by fourth grade.
Resources on Literacy and Teaching Others to Read
Literacy and the Youngest Learner by V. Susan Bennett-Armistead
Literacy Play by Sherrie West
50 Early Childhood Literacy Strategies by Janice J. Beaty
Teaching Real-life Nonfiction Reading Skills in the K-1 Classroom by Barbara S. Pinto
Teaching Kids to Read by Gail Saunders-Smith
Whole Child Reading by Natalie Hale
Hi-Lo Nonfiction Passages for Struggling Readers by Scholastic
Teaching Reading in the Middle School by Common Core and More
Teach Anyone to Read by Lillie Pope
You Can Teach Someone to Read by Lorraine Peoples
Life Literacy by Matt Young