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Oct 6 / Matthew Lockwood

If you’re reading this, you can help

You may have seen the extensive media coverage on Sunday in the Detroit Free Press about the new Reading Works program. Wayne State is one of several community partners coming together through this alliance to improve the literacy rate of adults in our area. I was shocked to learn that up to 47 percent of Detroit adults are functionally illiterate.

When I first heard about this initiative I thought ‘well that sounds like a nice program,’ but it didn’t immediately hit me how important it really is. Think about what your life would be like if you couldn’t read. For starters, you probably wouldn’t have a job, or a least one that paid above minimum wage. You couldn’t help your children with their homework. You couldn’t read street signs, this blog or order off of a menu.

When you think about it, reading is really a ticket to participate in society. If someone can’t read they’re probably not paying taxes, buying a home or debating the politics of their community. They also don’t have the opportunity to savor some of the things I enjoy most: the morning paper, getting my Sports Illustrated on Thursdays, keeping up with friends on Facebook and books. Instead, the world is a complicated, confusing and frustrating place.

In the coming weeks you can expect to see more media coverage as the Reading Works Alliance works to raise public awareness and recruit volunteers. WDET, Wayne State’s public radio station, is committed to coverage through its news department, on its most popular shows and through promotional announcements. In addition, this week’s Michigan Chronicle is scheduled to run a story and WXYZ-TV (Ch. 7), WJR and Mix 92.3 are expected to devote time to the issue.

I plan to volunteer some of my time too, as a tutor. To join the fight against illiteracy, visit, or call 313-222-6515.



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