Many people think the only person impacted by illiteracy is the person who can’t read. In fact, it impacts us all.

The Nation

  • In a study of literacy among 20 ‘high income’ countries; US ranked 12th;
  • 44 million adults are unable to read a simple story to their children;
  • 50% of adults cannot read a book written at an 8th-grade level;
  • 45 million are functionally illiterate and read below a 5th-grade level;
  • 44% of the American adults do not read a book in a year;
  • 6 out of 10 households do not buy a single book in a year.

The Economy

  • 3 out of 4 people on welfare can’t read;
  • 20% of Americans read below the level needed to earn a living wage;
  • 50% of the unemployed between the ages of 16 and 21 cannot read well enough to be considered functionally literate;
  • Between 46 and 51% of American adults have an income well below the poverty level because of their inability to read;
  • Illiteracy costs American taxpayers an estimated $20 billion each year;
  • School dropouts cost our nation $240 billion in social service expenditures and lost tax revenues.


  • 3 out of 5 people in American prisons can’t read;
  • To determine how many prison beds will be needed in future years, some states actually base part of their projection on how well current elementary students are performing on reading tests;
  • 85% of juvenile offenders have problems reading;
  • Approximately 50% of Americans read so poorly that they are unable to perform simple tasks such as reading prescription drug labels.

Source: National Institute for Literacy, National Center for Adult Literacy, The Literacy Company, U.S. Census Bureau