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WHY IT MATTERS   >   Stories

Behind all the facts and numbers related to low literacy are real people with stories about the challenge of low literacy, and even more about the opportunities that literacy creates. Every story is different and each brings to life a different facet of this complex issue. Here are a few inspiring ones.

Mary's Story

Mary had always found ways to deal with the fact she couldn't read or write. Her husband used to deal with everything, but when he died she knew life would be ever more difficult.

A simple mistake understanding the dose for her medication put Mary in the hospital, and she knew that her embarrassment at not being able to read wasn't worth her life.

Find out more about Mary and people like her that have overcome low literacy later in life.

Video courtesy of Project Literacy

www.projectliteracy.com/giveyourword

Literate Parents

Almost one billion adults don’t know how to read or write. And their low literacy not only affects them, it affects their families and all successive generations—because illiterate parents are much more likely to pass the problem down to their children.

Video courtesy of Project Literacy

www.projectliteracy.com/giveyourword

Wanda's Story

Wanda’s children used to ask her to read them books at bedtime, but she wasn’t able to. So she would pick a book at random, and then make up a story to accompany the pictures.

Video courtesy of Project Literacy

www.projectliteracy.com/giveyourword

Nereida's Story

Nereida dropped out of school to better care for her first daughter, and soon her plans to return faded away. Homeless for seven years, Nereida finally found help at a women’s shelter where she was referred to an adult literacy program that was run from her local library.

Video courtesy of Project Literacy

www.projectliteracy.com/giveyourword

Peter's Story

Peter has struggled with low literacy ever since he was a child. His first job was at age 16 as a baker’s apprentice, where he would hide his difficulty writing by watching the head baker to memorize recipes. Last year, when his brother asked him to read over his vows before his wedding Peter knew it was time to make a change.

Video courtesy of Project Literacy

www.projectliteracy.com/giveyourword

Herman's Story

Herman hid the fact that he couldn’t read or write behind his anger. It was a tactic that he’d used since school, eventually leading to him dropping out to avoid it altogether. After 35 years of getting frustrated every time he needed to read street signs or instructions for his medication he decided he needed to make a change. Life was too short to spend it angry.

Video courtesy of Project Literacy

www.projectliteracy.com/giveyourword