This post was originally published by The Literacy Coalition of the Permian Basin.


Literacy is a big deal. It affects all of us, whether we realize it or not. For example, if you can’t read well, then you won’t be able to understand the instructions on a medicine bottle or how to make that report at work. If your kids can’t read well, they’ll struggle in school and may never achieve their full potential. Literacy matters because it affects how we think about ourselves and how we function in society.

No one knows how many people in West Texas can’t read.

Many people live in West Texas and may be unable to read. This can lead to negative outcomes including isolation, depression, low self-esteem, social stigma, legal issues, and incarceration.

There are a few reasons why this might be the case:

They can’t afford books for their kids.

If you’re like me, you probably don’t think about literacy as something that’s a problem for children. We tend to think about kids who can’t afford books or who have parents who don’t read much or don’t have time to help their kids with homework. But there’s another group of kids whose parents have all of those things going against them: they’re too busy working two jobs just to get by.

Reading is an important part of learning how to read, but it also helps kids develop vocabulary and fluency in speech, both of which are beneficial in school and out of school throughout life. Kids will do better if they spend more time reading than watching TV or playing video games because reading helps them learn words and concepts faster than other activities do (National Reading Panel).

Many low-income families rely on public libraries for cheap books because schools often do not provide enough textbooks needed by students during school years (Scholastic Corporation). However, many poor families do not visit libraries regularly because they cannot afford transportation costs such as gas money or bus fare (Miller). Additionally, poor parents may need extra money just so their children can participate in after-school activities like sports teams or clubs (Zuckerman).

They can’t help their kids with homework.

They may be convincing themselves and others that they are reading when they aren’t.

If you suspect that someone is pretending to read, they may be. But more likely than not, the problem is more complex. For example, illiterate people may be convinced that they are reading when they aren’t. They may also have a misunderstanding about what reading entails, and therefore think that what they’re doing counts as reading. Or perhaps the person has been taught how to read but never practiced enough so now struggles with comprehension (this is common among adults). And finally, some people simply don’t know how to explain the difference between reading and pretending to read—or maybe even between being literate or illiterate—so no matter what happens there will always be some level of confusion involved in these situations

It’s hard to find the time to read

Reading aloud is an important way of developing language skills, but many parents don’t know this and hesitate to do it.

Parents who have trouble reading often feel ashamed

You may feel overwhelmed and alone, or you may be afraid to ask for help. Or, if you are a parent who has trouble reading and your child is struggling in school because of it, the situation can be even more difficult:

You might feel shame, embarrassment, and doubt about your abilities. You may worry about what others think about your ability to help with homework or understand what your child needs from you as a parent. You could also doubt that there’s anything you can do at all because it seems so far beyond reach. All of these feelings are understandable—but they don’t have to be permanent or insurmountable barriers!

If they don’t read, they may have trouble keeping up with the world around them, even at work.

Reading is a skill that can be improved with practice, and it’s one of the most important business skills. If you’re not reading, you may have trouble keeping up with the world around you—even at work. Reading helps you to learn new things so that when something happens in your field or industry, such as a new law being passed or a company merging with another company, it’s easier to understand what’s going on because you’ve read about similar situations before.

Reading also helps people keep up with what’s happening in their communities and neighborhoods. You might want to know if any new restaurants are opening nearby or if there are upcoming events at local museums or theaters before they happen so that when someone asks about them later on (on Facebook), everyone else knows about them too!

Young children are being set up for school failure because they aren’t being exposed to books every day.

In addition to the cognitive benefits of early book exposure, there are also social and emotional ones. As children grow up, they begin to form their identity and self-worth concerning books. And as they get older, they will also start feeling a sense of community with people who have similar interests as themselves.

Literacy matters, and it affects us all

Literacy is important for all of us. As a society, we need to be literate to thrive. Literacy is important for our economy, culture, and individual lives. Literacy is also important because it helps us prepare for the future.

Now that you have a better understanding of literacy and its importance, let’s explore what it means to be literate:


This is not a new problem. Many people have trouble reading, and it’s a problem that has been around for a long time. But it’s important to remember that reading isn’t just about being able to understand what you’re reading—it also helps us be better at other things like communication and learning new skills.