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BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Many would agree that reading can open doors to life-changing educational and financial opportunities. 

Even taking the time to read works of fiction can enhance empathy and social intelligence. Novels have a unique way of guiding readers through the process of putting themselves in another person’s shoes. 

Fantasy author George R.R. Martin touched on this point in a widely-used quote, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies . . . The man who never reads lives only one.”

Sadly, statistics indicate that 21% of adults in the U.S. are illiterate and 54% of adults who can read struggle with a literacy below 6th-grade level.

In Louisiana, the literacy rate is 84% and is among the top ten U.S. states with the lowest literacy performance

Managing every day life without the ability to read is incredibly difficult. 

According to the World Literacy Foundation, “Individuals with low levels of literacy are more likely to experience poorer employment opportunities and outcomes and lower income. As a result, they often face welfare dependency, low self-esteem, and higher levels of crime.”

But there is hope for those who struggle with literacy.

Adults across the nation are taking specialized classes and learning how to read.

A 68-year-old woman in Dallas, Texas named Jerutha Pratt told local reporters, “They (a nonprofit called the Wynnewood Family Hope Center) have pulled me from the bottom and now I’m able to read a letter that comes to my house. So, I’m so excited.”

She explained the joy she finds in reading one of her favorite books, saying, “We have a library, and I took Little Women. And I’ve been reading it, and that is one of the best… I have enjoyed sitting there and breaking the letters down, breaking the words down…it’s a good feeling.”  

Though learning to read as an adult can be difficult and even humbling, Pratt’s experience illustrates that the benefits far surpass any challenges. 

If you know an adult in the Baton Rouge area who wants to learn to read, the local organizations listed below may be able to assist.  

The State Library- Adult Literacy Resources

701 North 4th Street, Baton Rouge, LA 70802

Phone: (225) 342-4913

Adult Literacy Advocates 

7732 Goodwood Boulevard

Suite 111

Baton Rouge, LA 70806

Phone: (225) 383-1090

Baton Rouge Community College- Adult Education

3250 N Acadian Thruway E

Baton Rouge, La. 70805

Room C 165

Phone: 225.421.3903