The Value of Literacy


Literacy—the ability to read and write—is arguably the single most important factor in determining a person’s career arc. For those who can read and write, the range of possible vocations is vast—even highly skilled, high-paying careers are within reach. For those who cannot, the options are extremely limited—even unskilled minimum-wage jobs can be difficult to obtain.

Children are typically taught to read beginning in pre-school and  Kindergarten. Education experts [1] say first graders should be able to read at least 150 high-frequency words [2] by the end of the year.

From ages 7-9, children’s reading fluency improves and they can read without assistance. By ages 9-15, children begin to acquire ideas from what they’re reading, and as adults, these [former] children should be able to comprehend long and complex text without assistance. [3] 

In terms of literacy rate (percentage of the population over age 15 that can read and write), the U.S. ranks 137th out of 194 nations with a literacy rate of 79% in 2023. The average American is thought to be literate at the level of a 7th-8th grade student. Unfortunately, one in four children in the U.S. grows up without learning how to read. [4]

Being literate involves much more than just being able to read and write. A child’s intellectual and emotional growth can be irreparably harmed by illiteracy, which also frequently inhibits one’s ability to lead a fulfilling and successful adult life.

Fight illiteracy and support both adult and children’s literacy in your community. Find out about diversity in children’s literature and Multicultural Children’s Book Day here


[1] What Should A First Grader Know? 

[2] What are high-frequency words?

[3] Literacy Development in Children

[4] Literacy Statistics in the U.S. for 2023 – Prosperity for America

World Atlas – Literacy Statistics

Literacy Rate by Country – Wise Voter

[5] Reading Statistics


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