Learning to Read as an Adult

Learning to read as an adult is like walking out of a long, dark tunnel into sun. Maybe. Actually, it’s probably more like wanting desperately to get out of a labyrinth of tunnels but you don’t know where to turn. Then someone says, “Go this way. It will be hard, but someone will be there to help you.”

So you go. All it will take is perseverance. Hard work. Determination. And some help. With every step, some help.

This is the journey from illiteracy to power. Students at Literacy Outreach admit it’s not easy, learning to read as adults. Meredith said it was so difficult she had to ask herself, “What do I really want?” in order to keep on trying. And what she wanted more than anything was to learn to read.

Before she found Literacy Outreach, Meredith couldn’t read the labels on the cleaning agents she was using as a custodian. She’d have to get help to make sure she wasn’t using something that said “Danger: Poison.” She hated picking up books to try to read because it was impossible.

Now Meredith has read four books in the Little House on the Prairie series and is going full speed ahead. Her eyes shine when she talks about her success; her tutor, Ginny; and their journey together. Meredith has big plans now, and one of them is to get her GED. She says, “If it takes 10 years to get my GED, Ginny will just have to keep lookin’ at me. I’m not trading her for anything!”

Meredith has made it through the tunnel. “Life’s easy now,” she grins.

Sonia and Barbara are another student and tutor pair. They have found real friendship while Sonia learns to read in English. She says, “I am so grateful to my tutor. She’s like a second mother to me.” When Sonia had to work long hours, Barbara found a way to keep the tutoring going through phone calls. Barbara says, “Sonia has hugely enriched my life. She’s wonderful. We just bubble at each other.”

Hard work? Yes. But the rewards are forever.


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