How to Overcome Literacy Issues in Your Family

Literacy issues are a big problem among adults, more than we realize. In fact according to an article by Valerie Strauss in the Washington Post, “There are 32 million adults who can’t read.”

There are many adults, for whatever reason, who didn’t finish school and lacked learning abilities growing up.

Their learning issues could have come from living in a difficult or poor environment with minimum resources, to having uneducated parents who couldn’t help, to having a learning disability, or being around people who didn’t push or drive them to effectively learn.

With so much against such children, teachers would have a hard time connecting and giving them what they needed individually. In a lot of instances, the children may have been pushed through school from grade-to-grade.

As time passed, those same children became adults who now suffer with literacy issues. Then, they had children and the cycle continues with their kids because they are unable to help their kids with homework or reading. The only way their kids get help is with some type of learning intervention, or the kids have something within them to want more out of life, and they push themselves to do better.

Yes, literacy issues are real… even now. There are fully-functional successful business owners who secretly suffer in silence with illiteracy but manage to effectively live their lives. There are moms and dads who can’t read their important papers, and they are forced to work at lower paying jobs because of their inability to read and understand paperwork. In a lot of instances, they may be ashamed about their inability to read, so they don’t get help.

My guest, Kathryn Starke, is an expert in the field of literacy. She spends her life and is committed to the cause of helping people with literacy problems. Read along as she talks about dealing with literacy issues in your family and increasing life skills at home.

Kathryn Starke is a national urban literacy consultant, author, adjunct professor, keynote speaker, and a former elementary school teacher. She is the founder of Creative Minds Publications, an educational publishing company. The company develops engaging and educational products and services to motivate children, support parents, and inspire teachers to love teaching reading. She wrote and published Amy’s Travels, the first children’s picture book to teach all seven continents and created Tackle Reading, a literacy initiative supported by the NFL (National Football League) and NFLA (National Football League Alumni).

3WV: What is literacy? How big of a problem is illiteracy?

Kathryn: Literacy is defined as the ability to read and write. Sadly, illiteracy in America is a crisis that is not often discussed—32 million adults in America are considered illiterate. Only 37% of nine-year-old children in America currently read on grade level. That figure decreases to 22% of nine-year-old children living in poverty.

3WV: Why is literacy important to growth?

Kathryn: Literacy is a life-long skill. Once someone becomes a successful, independent reader he or she can read anything. Reading helps us grow in knowledge as it pertain to our work, our family, our hobbies, our interests, and ourselves.

3WV: Tell us about your business.

Kathryn: Creative Minds Publications is an educational publishing company that creates and provides engaging and educational products and services to support a love of literacy. Our books and programs motivate children, support families, and inspire teachers to love teaching reading. We published the first children’s picture book to teach all seven continents. We have also created the Tackle Reading movement, a national initiative supported by the NFL, NFLA, and WNFC to promote a love of literacy with a passion for football.

3WV: What do you enjoy most about what you do?

Kathryn: I have been teaching since I was a little girl, and that is still what I love doing the most. I love teaching children how to read, teaching parents how to read with their children, and teaching teachers how to effectively teach reading in the classroom. I love spending my days in elementary schools around the country.

3WV: If a woman is suffering with literacy issues, what can she do to help herself?

Kathryn: Cities across America have nonprofit organizations that support adult illiteracy and are ready to help women of all ages. Visit your local library today and ask for this information.

3WV: If a parent has a child suffering with literacy issues, what are some things that can be done to help the child?

Kathryn: Every child has the right to read and receive additional support at school. The first thing a parent should do is ask the teacher what reading help is being provided for his or her child. At home, reading to and with your child at least 30 minutes a night and asking them questions about the text helps children improve in their decoding, vocabulary, and comprehension skills.

3WV: What are the biggest misconceptions about people who deal with literacy issues?

Kathryn: Certainly, a big misconception of people who deal with literacy issues can be labeled “stupid” by outsiders or non-educators. This is often said of children with dyslexia, a learning disability in reading, when in fact these children are often among the brightest and creative students. Everyone should be given the gift of literacy no matter how old they may be.

3WV: How does having literacy issues impact a person’s life and family?

Kathryn: More often than not, having literacy issues impacts an entire family or community. The same opportunities are not provided for someone who has a literacy issue. This is because everything requires reading—from books to items including recipes, contracts, signs, menus, and labels. When someone can’t read, he or she is automatically at a disadvantage in our society. Literacy opens doors.

3WV: What is meant by life skills and how does it start at home?

Kathryn: Reading and writing are life skills. Life skills are considered the most useful skills in life like driving, swimming, or tying your shoe. More often than not, children are exposed to these life skills at home that are modeled by our parents.

3WV: List some things people can do at home to increase their life skills?

Kathryn: Parents can encourage children to play with books and games that promote reading, writing, and numeracy. We can also teach them how to tie their shoe, ride their bike, swim, problem solve, and communicate effectively. As adults, we can practice what we need to improve in. A life lesson for all of us to remember is that practice makes perfect!

3WV: Give some words of empowerment or advice to help women in their lives.

Kathryn: Women are multi-taskers with heart and grit. I believe that any woman can make an impact in someone’s life. Determine what makes you happy in life, then think about how you can share that happiness with others.

3WV:  How can people reach out to you?

Kathryn: Please visit my website

Follow me on Twitter • Instagram • Facebook: @KathrynStarke

Her Books:



Article Written & Interview by: Debbie Stokes

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Strauss, Valerie. Hiding in Plain Sight: The Adult Literacy Crisis. The Washington Post. November 1, 2016.