Fighting Illiteracy

Fighting Illiteracy

It's a startling fact that more than 20 percent of adults in Wichita County are functionally illiterate. That doesn't mean that can't read and write, but it does mean they aren't able to do what they need to do.

One in five within the county cannot fill out a job application, or help their kids with homework, according the officials from the Wichita County Literacy Council. Those statistics have a huge impact on the economy, jobs, and unemployment. 

"We would love to put ourselves out of a job, but that's not going to happen anytime soon," said Sara Shelton, Director of the Wichita County Literacy Council.

Literacy rates of children entering the fourth grade are projected to decrease by 11 percent by 2015, unless prevention methods are taken, according the United Way of Wichita Falls websiteStudents that are developed going into kindergarten have also sharply declined 15 percent from 2009, according to the United Way website. 

The United Way also developed an Early Developmental Instrument that tested school readiness of children in the area. The school readiness tested: physical health, social confidence, emotional maturity, language and cognitive development, and communication of children in different neighborhoods.

The results showed that the East Side and West Lynwood were two areas targeted for growth with intervention, according to United Way officials. The release of that information inspired a local father, who’s active in the community, to get Little Free Libraries in their neighborhood. 

"We had an opportunity through United Way to get some projects going in our neighborhood," Carlos Williams said. "It had the second highest levels of deficiencies."

The demand for Little Free Libraries is growing. The little libraries are a worldwide movement, and are also having a big influence in Wichita Falls.  

"It was really just about encouraging literacy," Williams said.

There are about six little libraries locations in Wichita Falls, according to Williams. Two of those locations are actually registered Free Little Libraries. One of the problems people have with city libraries is the accessibility and locations.

Many times people may not have rides or ways to get there. The little local libraries make picking up a book easy to do.

"Anyone that passes a library can put a book in, and anyone that drives by a library can take a book," Williams said.

The ultimate goal is to get all locations registered. The registration means that one person would need to be responsible for that one library. If it needs repairs, more books or additional attention, one person would be held accountable.

In Texoma, there are only six Little Free Libraries registered. The main objective is to get the word out about literacy, and get more people inspired to build their neighborhood a little library, said Williams.

“Anytime you have access to books, especially  for kids who have difficulty… it’s empowering,” said Shelton.

Brittany CostelloNewschannel six