98-Year Old Learns to Read and Writes Autobiography

Whoever said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks had never met Jim Arruda Henry. Henry spent the first 91 years of his life illiterate. However, when he turned 92, Henry decided it was time to learn. Henry said that the tipping point for him was when he heard about George Dawson, another elderly gentlemen who learned to read when he was 98-years old.

“I said if he can do it, I’m going to try,” Henry said.

For many years, Henry hid the fact that he could not read from most of his family and friends. It makes sense that the career fisherman who only had a third grade education would be able to cope with this problem, but some of the ways he did so are quite interesting.

For example, when he went out to eat with his family, “he would wait for someone else to order and say, ‘That sounds good, I’ll have that,'” his granddaughter, Marlisa McLaughlin said. “Or if he had a bill, he’d just requisition the guy and say, ‘So how much do I owe you?'”

Finally, Henry decided it was time to learn to read when he went through a painful family situation. Read the rest of this entry »

Many Students in the UK Do Not Own a Book

little boy with bookChildren who start reading at a younger age tend to develop a love for reading that lasts their entire lifetime. It also helps them learn new vocabulary words and perform better in school as they get older. Reading as a child is important, and that’s why the findings of a new study in the UK are so disturbing. According to this study, almost one-third of students in the UK do not own a single book.

The National Literacy Trust conducted a survey of 18,000 children and found that 33.2 percent of these students did not own a single book. When this percent is applied to the entire population of the nation, it comes out that 3.8 million students do now have a book that they can call their own. This number has increased from 2004, when only 10 percent of students did not own a book.

Okay, so the kids don’t own their own books. They can still go to the library and check out a book to read. Shouldn’t that have the same effect on the student’s ability to read? Evidently not, according to Jonathan Douglas, a National Literacy Trust director.

Read the rest of this entry »

Are Americans Financially Illiterate?

Lauren Willis of the Loyola Law School, Los Angeles

Lauren Willis of the Loyola Law School, Los Angeles

The answer is yes. Most Americans do not have the financial understanding necessary to navigate the terms of their credit card agreement, and yet studies suggest it should stay that way. Lauren Willis of the Loyola Law School in Los Angeles recently wrote a controversial paper entitled “Against Financial Literacy Education” that suggests most people aren’t capable of keeping up with the complex and fast-changing regulations or metrics that drive our financial industry.

In it she states that attempts to financially educate people have been costly to the government and met with limited success, citing several cases in which test scores were lower among those who had received a financial education than those who hadn’t. She further argues that financial education tends to increase the confidence of the consumer, but fails to increase their ability to make good financial decisions. Willis believes that financial matters should be left to experts rather than individual consumers, much like the fields of law and medicine.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

Minneapolis, Seattle are the Nation’s Most Literate Metro Areas

Living in frigid Minneapolis is smarter than you might think.

Living in frigid Minneapolis is smarter than you might think.

On days where the high is two degrees below zero, I wonder why in the world I live in Minneapolis.  Then I remember that this is a great city with lots of great cultural resources and fun activities.

On top of this, I found out today that according to a recent report, the Minneapolis metro area is tied with Seattle for the distinction of most literate metropolitan area in the United States.

Minneapolis’ sister city, St. Paul, is ranked fourth on the list.  Since the Minneapolis-St. Paul area is really just one big metro area, that means that combined, our area is no doubt on top.  That’s something to think about the next time I’m huddling in front of the fireplace with a good book. Read the rest of this entry »


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