(The following is a guest post from Sue Siegel, director of development at the Library of Congress.)
To Stephen King, the master of horror, a truly frightening scenario is the emergence of a world of non-readers. King, a champion of literacy recognized by the Library of Congress, says that reading is critical to opening up our abilities to empathize and analyze — skills that are essential to being an informed thinker and better human being. He has made it part of his life’s work to inspire young audiences to read so they may know “learning to think is a result of hard work and steady effort.”
He is justified in being afraid. Across America, the statistics about the state of literacy and reading are heartbreaking:
- The U.S. is ranked 12th in literacy among 20 “high income” countries.
- 44 million adults are unable to read a simple story to their children.
- 50% of adults cannot read a book written at an eighth grade level.
- Illiteracy costs American taxpayers an estimated $20 billion each year.
Source: National Institute for Literacy, National Center for Adult Literacy, The Literacy Company, U.S. Census Bureau
To promote a culture of reading and literacy at the national level, the Library of Congress presents the annual National Book Festival — a booklover’s dream come true. Each year, hundreds of thousands of booklovers of all ages and backgrounds have the opportunity to meet their favorite authors and snag autographs (popular graphic novelist Raina Telgemeier managed to autograph 1,500 books in an hour and 10 minutes!) from such luminaries as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Candice Millard, Bob Woodward, Ken Burns, Salmon Rushdie, and Kwame Alexander, in-person and virtually, entirely free of charge.
The Library of Congress National Book Festival is only possible because of donors who share a commitment to advancing reading and combatting illiteracy.
Please make a gift today to help create a nation of readers, and mark your calendar for Sept. 2, 2017, for next year’s National Book Festival.