On Mission Magazine - Fall 2018

Page 12

the five

5 Effects of illiteracy By Claudean Boatman

Illiteracy colors every area of the non-reader’s life with dark hues. I witnessed consequences of not reading well when I was a child, but I didn’t understand what I was seeing. Now, I look back and understand that illiteracy was a powerful, negative force in my family.


People who can’t read at a functional level become dependent on coping mechanisms.



Non-readers often live in isolation.

They avoid going to new parts of town because they can’t read signs or directions. They miss intimate moments with children and grandchildren because they can’t read with them. They ignore what they can’t read—everything from manhole covers to notes from their children’s teachers. They don’t work with others if there is risk their illiteracy will be discovered. They don’t go where they may be asked to read aloud, including Bible study.


Illiteracy leaves one vulnerable to deception.

Many trust few people with their secret, including family members. Much of our lives takes place

I once overheard my family members talking about

in writing. Even family members could take

how they had copied labels from food packages

advantage of one who does not know how

to match in the store, but most of the packages

to read. Non-readers are often deceived

had changed, so they didn’t know for sure if they

financially by unethical advisors. When they

got what they wanted. Some strategies effectively

live on a cash basis, they are at the mercy

conceal illiteracy while others barely mask it. Non-

of those who cash their checks. Spiritual

readers develop listening skills and a superior

charlatans find the illiterate easy prey

memory to survive each day.

because they can’t verify for themselves what they are taught.