The High Cost of Illiteracy

What has your day consisted of, so far? Maybe you woke up, read the newspaper over coffee after you took your morning regimen of medications. Maybe you tried out that new breakfast recipe you found on Pinterest. Then you probably got in your car to go to work, runs some errands, etc. Pretty routine, right?

Now, imagine what your life would be like if you lacked basic literacy skills. You probably couldn’t have read much, if any, of the newspaper. Taking medication would have been a struggle because you would have had trouble reading the dosage instructions. You probably would have struggled to get through the recipe. And driving might have been out of the question because, as hard as you’ve tried, you just can’t read the material to study for the driving test.

Basic, everyday tasks like these are easy, mundane even, for those of us who are able to do them every day without even thinking. But for adults with low literacy skills, these small things may be dreams that might never be realized.

Not only does illiteracy affect the individual, it also affects the community and can be directly linked to many of the world’s problems

“Illiteracy is a global problem, stretching from the United States to Uganda, from Europe to Cambodia and everywhere in between. It matters because the inability to read and write quickly leads to big problems. Illiterate people are more likely to be poor, lack education, miss out on opportunities to participate fully in society and the workforce. Sadly, their choices in life are far too limited.”



Facts and Statistics:

72% of children whose parents have low literacy skills will also have low literacy skills.

43% of adults with low literacy skills live in poverty.*

70% of welfare recipients have low literacy skills.*

It is estimated that over $272 billion is spent each year in health care costs linked to low literacy. Low literacy skills costs the US at least $225 billion dollars in non-productivity in the workforce, crime, and loss of tax revenue each year due to unemployment.*

75% of state prison inmates did not complete high school or can be considered low literate.*

On the surface, literacy seems like a small issue but when you look at the facts and the issues linked to the lack of reading and writing skills, it becomes clear that literacy is a fundamentally important issue.

The Miami Public Library Adult Literacy Program seeks to combat these staggering statistics in our community. We strive to meet the educational needs of our adult students (ages 16 and up) in every way possible.

For more information about becoming a volunteer tutor or student, please contact Kristen at 918-542-2292.


*statistics from