Local Demand for Literacy Volunteers

By: Randy Yohe Email
By: Randy Yohe Email

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Statistics show the tremendous need for local literacy volunteers: one in five West Virginia adults either can't read or can't read very well.

The Tri-State Literacy Council is training tutors and looking for students. At the Cabell County Public Library, more than a dozen volunteer tutors are finishing a 12-hour instructor's course. Then they will be paired off for one-on-one sessions with students whose reading abilities vary.

"Generally we're serving students below a fourth- or fifth-grade reading level," said Denise Pittenger, the literacy program director. "We have a literacy gap in this area."

Many of the tutors will not just teach adults to read, but to cope with a variety of social, family and economic problems. National numbers go to the root of those problems: one in three young adults drop out of high school. More then half of all Americans in prison come and go with low literacy skills, and nearly half of all college students take a remedial course.

And it's not just learning to read words; teachers say some students don't have the ability or knowledge to match common symbols to the words they describe.

"A lot of our students have learning disabilities," said literacy instructor Pam Bryan.

What motivates challenged adults to learn or improve their reading skills? Literacy tutors say there are as many reasons as there are books.

"Many adults can't read their doctor's orders," Bryan said.

The Tri-State Literacy Council covers Cabell County, W.Va., along with Lawrence County, Ohio, and Boyd County, Ky. If you want to learn to read or improve your reading skills, contact your local library.


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