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Can You Read This?

statistics scare me.

I’ve seen figures showing 14
percent adult illiteracy rates. I’ve seen them showing functional
illiteracy as high as 25 percent. If either one of those is close
to true, at least one in 10, or as many as one in four, people
cannot read this magazine.

It scares me that so many
adults must be having trouble finding and keeping a job because
they can’t read. It scares me to think of them missing the joy of
reading to their children or helping them with their homework,
writing a letter to a friend, or the relaxation of an evening with
a book.

It scares me that so many
people are missing what reading can do to expand their world and
enrich their dreams.

In the next few months

Kentucky Living
will be publishing short items and feature stories
on reading and literacy. We’d like to begin by asking you to write
in and tell us about your favorite book-see details in the
“Commonwealths” section on page 11.

We’d also like to encourage you to participate in KET public
television’s book club project called “What If All Kentucky
Reads the Same Book?”

In May the KET book club will
discuss The Bean Trees by Kentuckian Barbara Kingsolver. A book
that’s easy and fun to read, it’s the story of a Kentuckian who
drives west and meets a group of fascinating people. It can also
be discussed at a deeper level as a story about hope, and being
part of a community in a hostile world. (Parents might note that
if this book were a movie, it would probably be rated PG.) You can
participate by calling 1-800-334-8409 or using a computer to go to By
the end of January, nearly 500 people had already signed up to
read the book.

Dianna Hoover is among those
who signed up. She’s president of the Livermore Women’s Club,
which is considering participating in the project partly as a way
to help promote the Livermore Community Library.

She says, “We want to get other people in the
community involved, to come together to discuss a good book. Maybe it will be
a one-time thing, or maybe it will start a literary club or discussion group every

Paul Wesslund


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