Illiteracy Rates High in our Area

It's something many of us take for granted. Reading. But thousands of adults in Memphis and throughout Tennessee struggle to understand the words around them.

"They can't read a newspaper headline, they can't fill out a job application, they can't read the labels on their mdications," says Wilson McCloy of the Memphis Literacy Council. "They just have a lot of trouble and they have other people do things for them when it comes to reading something."

21% of the adult population in Tennessee is at a level one literacy rate. According to the National Institute for Literacy, adults who read at Level 1 can not pick out an intersection on a map, locate two pieces of information in an article or fill out an application.

"Around 130,000 people are not functionally literate in this community," says McCloy. He says knowing how to read is a powerful and important thing in any community, "to encourage literacy and to learn how to read gives people that power back to take care of themselves and learn about whey they want to learn about."