This is the first sentence of this article, and the fact that you can read it isn’t to be taken for granted.


According to research noted by, only 12 percent of the world population was literate in 1800. 12 percent! How mind-blowing is that?


Perhaps to bring it to even more shocking perspective, notes that 2/3 of the students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare. They also note that 85 percent of all juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate. Heartbreaking.


There’s just no way of overstating how important it is for children to be given the blessing of reading.


Lana Winter-Hébert at reminds us that reading provides mental stimulation, stress reduction, knowledge, vocabulary expansion, memory improvement, stronger analytical thinking skills, improved focus and concentration, and better writing skills, tranquility and free entertainment. How many problems would any one or two of those things solve in today’s complex, stressful world?


Literacy statistics are some of the most compelling, interesting and shocking statistics you can find. And one would be remiss to not sift through those statistics and know that reading is foundational to overall life success, financial stability and even personal health.


You might guess that the technological revolution we’ve been on for several decades now, and especially since the advent of the iPhone in 2007, has brought us the ironic challenge of putting down our books, but of also holding a new world of answers at our very fingertips.


Diana Aquino, writing as a guest for, warns that still in America about 14 percent of the adult population, over 30 million people, can’t read above a 3rd grade level. This comes well short of that vital end-of-4th-grade threshold mentioned above. She notes several apps she trusts to help children elude this dangerous territory of illiteracy:

  • NaturalReader – This app may be especially good for individuals with dyslexia, Aquino notes, but it’s helpful for anyone needing assistance on the reading journey. The app reads content out loud so the reader can see how various words and phrases work together in the flow of the material they’re trying to master.
  • Read&Write – Aquino sees this app as particularly helpful for those with learning difficulties and for those whose first language isn’t English. As the name implies, it helps with making sense of reading content and it can also analyze writing.
  • WYNN – Perhaps most compelling of the three listed here is WYNN. Aquino says, “This literacy software tool is designed for individuals who struggle with dyslexia, dysgraphia and aphasia. WYNN enhances success with reading and writing challenges. The software has been developed with the help of special educators and individuals who’ve experienced learning difficulties. WYNN has a wide range of capabilities including: a bi-modal approach to reading, ability to edit pages and files, custom visuals and clear-sounding text-to-speech.”


You can find many more than these three apps — a wide variation, designed for many different needs and levels. Capella University recently published a robust list on their education blog: Bob Books #1, Endless Alphabet, Endless Reader, Homer: Kids Learn to Read, Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read, iWriteWords, Metamorphabet, Monkey World School Adventure, Montesorri Crossword and Reading Raven. All of these apps were rated for either 3+ or 4+ years and up.


So, there’s no lack of innovation and technology out there to help us continue to give our children one of the most important skills they will ever need: the gift of reading.



Perhaps the most vital thing we can do, of course, is to put all the distractions of life on hold and lead by example, picking up an old-fashioned book or our favorite device and reading in front of our children. Have them read in front of us. Read together. And begin the beautiful and powerfully important practice of discussing what we’ve read and how it has impacted our thinking. A better world is ours for the making, and reading is one of the most compelling ways to take that journey.



Richard Singleton, MACE, MAMFC, LPC, is the president of STARRY in Round Rock.

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