Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Resolve to Read, Mississippi

A little over ten years ago, I started writing book talks for The Southern Reporter, a local newspaper based in Sardis, MS. I had graduated from the University of Alabama in 2005 with a masters in library science and really wanted to incite people to read - especially those Mississippians who shared the notorious position of being the least literate people in the United States.
I would like to say that levels of reading have improved and I can go about doing other things. I do not need to share every book read and encourage others to read. Y’all are reading and sharing just fine without me. But...
“According to a study conducted in late April (2013) by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy, 32 million adults in the U.S. can't read. That's 14 percent of the population. 21 percent of adults in the U.S. read below a 5th grade level, and 19 percent of high school graduates can't read.
The current literacy rate isn't any better than it was 10 years ago. According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy (completed most recently in 2003, and before that, in 1992), 14 percent of adult Americans demonstrated a "below basic" literacy level in 2003, and 29 percent exhibited a "basic" reading level.”
As I hang my head low in despair, I want to think tomorrow will be a better day. I want to think people will spontaneously rush to the nearest public library and check out 20 books. Some for them to read, some to share with their children, some to help them grow a garden in the Spring, some to fix that dang car, and some to get them back on the road to financial success.   
With a New Year comes new resolutions, and I resolve to make 2016 the Year of Reading! So much of a good life is wrapped up in reading good books. Sharing thoughts from a book can help us all understand how and why people do what they do. Books make you smarter, and I would rather my neighbor enjoy intelligent thoughts about improving our community than wallowing in the ends and out of a Kardashian.
My New Year resolution, and this is crazy, is to make Mississippians read! I will be telling you about great books and I dare each and every one of you to read these great books and books similar to them. After reading, go out and share your thoughts with others. I dare YOU to make Mississippians read, too!

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