Working Towards County Wide Literacy

By Kaileigh Deacon


It is hard to believe that in 2017 there are people that either can’t read or can read but only up to a fourth grade level. Despite this belief the startling fact is that 38% of Washington County residents can’t read above a fourth grade level. 

That is where Literacy Volunteers of Washington County comes in. The group is a non-profit that works to bring literacy to Washington County through volunteers doing outreach. For some people literacy can be a struggle while for others it comes with ease. For many the most basic of reading and comprehension skills are a struggle but the Literacy Volunteers are here to help with that. 

Recently the librarians from the Calais Free Library, Woodland Public Library, and Princeton Public Library just completed an 18 hour course that enables them to become adult tutors. The training included ways to help teach adult learners how to read and the differences in teaching adults and children. 

“Teaching an adult to read is so very different from teaching a child. The learner leads the way, they drive the speed and direction,” Eileen Campbell of the Literacy Volunteers of Washington County said. She described the process as mutual learning because adult learners tend to be interested in reading only about one subject and so the learner learns about that subject as they work on reading so both parties benefit from the exchange.  

Because of the stigma surrounding low literacy levels many people won’t ask for help reading. This is where the Library Adult tutoring programs come in, they will help people reading and understanding whatever they need whether it be prescriptions, mail, or everything there is to know about golf. The goal is to make sure everyone can understand and read what they want and need to. 

In addition to the adult tutoring program Literacy Volunteers also work in conjunction with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. This program works to get young children from birth through age five. The goal is to give children age appropriate books, one every month, that will get not only them but their families reading and growing together. 

By working with children to get them interested and learning to read at a young age it also encourages the parents and other family members to learn and read right along with them.  By encouraging children to read you create a habit and creating a habit creates lifelong readers. 

Currently there are 250 children in Washington County that receive books through the Imagination Library program. Multiple children from the same home can be registered to this program. To become part of the Imagination Library program a parent or guardian can go to the Imagination Library website or contact Eileen Campbell with Literacy Volunteers at 726-4688.  For more information on the adult tutoring or to become a Literacy Volunteer you can contact your local library or Eileen Campbell. You can also see the Literacy Volunteers at the Princeton Fresh Water Festival this Saturday from 9am-5pm.