Adults Read!

This semester students in READ 6325 explored professional resources on a variety of topics.

By I.Martinez

According to, there are 93 million adults in the United States who are reading at or below the basic levels of literacy, and of those 93 million, an estimated 3.8 million live in Texas, of which only about 100,000 are being served in Adult Education programs. The Texas Center for the Advancement of Literacy & Learning lists Hidalgo County as having an illiteracy rate of 50%, slightly above Starr County which is listed as 65%, and below Cameron County at 43%. (

Judging by this center’s statistics and those of the Texas Council of Developmental Disabilities, it is indicated that many border counties have the highest illiteracy rates and also some of the highest poverty indexes.  These border counties are listed as having illiteracy rates of 40% and above and poverty indexes of approximately 33% and above. With all this in mind, it is no wonder that many of our students enter school significantly behind in their literacy skills. If we are to help our nation, state, county, and our individual students, then the issue of adult illiteracy must be confronted. The following listings of resources have been provided for all who work with Adult Literacy in a professional capacity or as a volunteer.

Professional journals that focus on adult literacy are:

  1.  Perspectives: The New York Journal of Adult Learning, which is a publication of the New York Association of Continuing Community Education, and Fordham University’s Graduate School of Education, describes itself as a journal that explores common practice, research and theory in adult education, community education, continuing education, workforce development, and higher education. It also offers a complimentary sample of the journal.
  2. Commission on Adult Basic Education Journal or COABE Journal, describes itself as the only journal in North America that publishes research about the field of adult literacy. This journal also offers a free sample publication copy.
  3.  Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, describes itself as the only peer-reviewed journal that focuses on effective research-based strategies for teaching literacy to adolescents and adults. This journal also releases free articles from some of its issues.

 The above listed COABE Journal is produced by the Commission on Adult Basic Education which is a professional organization particularly aimed at meeting the needs of professionals in the field of Adult Literacy. The COABE organization is comprised of practitioners and administrators with a membership of approximately 10,000.  A membership link is provided on the home page of their website:

Books focusing on Adult Literacy are not very abundant, never-the-less, I was able to find listings for the following books on the website. They are:

Tips at Your fingertips: Teaching Strategies for Adult Literacy Tutors, by Ola M. Brown

Litstart: Literacy Strategies for Adult Reading Tutors, by Ed; DeVergilio, Marsha; DeButts, Donna Robson

Litstart: Strategies for Adult Literacy and ESL Tutors, by Patricia Frey

Improving Adult Literacy Outcomes: Lessons from Cognitive Research for Developing Countries, by Helen Abadzi

The Annual Review of Adult Learning and Literacy, National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy, by John Comings,  Barbara Garner, and Cristine Smith

 Books for the Adult Learners:

Goar Adult books are printed by Grass Roots Press and ABC Life Literacy Canada. These books are said to have adult themes but are written with accessible vocabulary and grammar. These books are also affordably priced at approximately $6.95, and can be found in Wal-Mart. You can find this webpage at:–goar-adult-books-for-adult-literacy-learners

For programs with limited funding, the Gutenburg project includes free books and some of the audio books that match the printed text. In other words, if your Adult Literacy program lacks the funds to purchase multiple copies of authentic literature for your classroom, you can download a free copy of a royalty free book (copyright has lapsed), and you can also download the adjoining audiofile to help as you do read alouds with your students.

 I have also included two charities that benefit Adult Literacy. The first is The National Adult Literacy Database (NALD), which is a registered, non-profit charity that provides internet based literacy information and resources. This charity provides materials, hosts websites for literacy organizations, and publicizes literacy events, to name a few services. On the Home page, to the right is a section labeled: Library-Multimedia collection, which I thought was quite good. It features videos that teachers can use for creating classroom materials, to videos on up to date research studies and findings on literacy.

The second non-profit organization that offers free instructional resources to teachers and volunteers is the ProLiteracy Education Network or EdNet for short. This educational network offers short self-paced courses in reading comprehension, vocabulary, writing and citizenship, plus printable PDFs of lesson plans and classroom activities. I found this website to be a gem. Besides its printables, videos, and audios, it has a very user friendly format which quickly took me to all these “freebies”. I have included the direct link to three audios. These audios discuss and model a think aloud for reading comprehension.

You can access the home network at the following URL: http://

 Finally, for teachers wanting to brush up on teaching phonetic strategies to adult learners, there is a free, online 30 day Reading Horizons Workshop at the following URL:


*As a footnote, I’d like to include the following websites as well: