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Sassone: Consider helping others bridge the reading gap

Reading enriches our lives in so many ways that the inability to read is a crushing handicap.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates there are more than 30 million adults (approximately 14 percent of the population) with low reading skills.

The estimate for Cook County is that one in five adults have low reading skills.

It is by the written word, printed or electronic, that we pick the fruits of the greatest minds throughout history.

In fact, reading is the way we learn there even was a past. We can’t ask Plato what he thought or Newton what he discovered. And it is through writing and reading that we pass what we know to the future.

Reading also is fun. Think of all the wonderful times you have spent with page-turning best sellers, keeping up with the Blackhawks, or trying to outwit Hercule Poirot and figure out the murderer’s identity before he does.

And reading is survival. For those who can’t read, or can barely read, the world can be a cold and forbidding place.

How do you get a job in this economy if you can’t read? How do you know which bus to take? How do you know how much of that medicine to take? How do you order from a menu? How do you get a driver’s license? How do you know how to cook a microwave dinner?

There’s a lot you can’t do if you can’t read.

That’s where Literacy Volunteers of Western Cook County steps in. It’s a not-for-profit agency based in Oak Park that provides free tutoring and literacy programs to adults in the western suburbs with reading problems or for whom English is a second language.

But to provide this life-enhancing and almost life-saving service to more than 200 people a year, the group needs volunteer tutors, for which the literacy group provides training.

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a tutor — or if you need Literacy Volunteers of Western Cook County’s services — call 708-848-8499, or go to the group’s website at www.lvwcc.org.

Tutors are amply rewarded. They have the immense satisfaction of knowing they have helped someone by opening a necessary and wonderful world that was closed.

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Read about Ernest Hemingway and his ties to Oak Park by clicking here.

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