Working to reverse the trend towards illiteracy and its negative impact on society

There is a great deal of research showing that children who are exposed to books at a young age go on to live better lives in a wide variety of ways.  The data suggest a strong connection between reading skills/activity and academic, work, economic, relationship, and other successes in life.  A recent study by the National Endowment for the Arts concluded that, “[the] decline in reading among teenage and adult Americans… [has had] demonstrable social, economic, cultural, and civic implications.”  Simply put, we need to develop a love for reading in our children and adults, and today’s guests are working to do just that.  Judy Hijikata is the Communications Director at The Reading Connection, and Kim Oates in one of their Read-Aloud volunteers.  Honored by a number of organizations as one of the best small charities in Washington, DC, The Reading Connection helps at-risk children improve their odds of success by helping them develop a love of reading. 

While we should justifiably be concerned with providing things like food, medicine, and shelter to families in need, developing good reading skills in these families can be as critically important to their future.

As usual, the volunteer gets more out of the experience than the people they serve.

Some U.S. statistics from the Literacy Project Foundation (

  • 50% of adults cannot read a book written at an eighth grade level.
  • Illiteracy costs American taxpayers an estimated $20 billion each year.
  • 3 out of 5 people in American prisons can’t read.
  • 3 out of 4 people on welfare can’t read.
  • School dropouts cost our nation $240 billion in social service expenditures and lost tax revenues.

Full Judy Hijikata and Kim Oates interview.

For more information:

2007 National Endowment for the Arts “To Read or Not to Read” research report: