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PC Reads hosts free screening of film highlighting literacy crisis

Illiteracy is a hidden crisis in America. PC Reads, a local non profit, is hosting a screening of the film “The Truth About Reading” which highlights the problem and what can be done about it.
Celeste Noche
Illiteracy is a hidden crisis in America. PC Reads, a local non profit, is hosting a screening of the film “The Truth About Reading” which highlights the problem and what can be done about it.

“The Truth About Reading,” a film about illiteracy in the United States, will be shown on Thursday at the Park City Library.

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, 43 million adults are functionally illiterate, which means they read at about a third grade level.

A local nonprofit organization is working to change those statistics.

Elissa Aten, co-founder and executive director of PC Reads, said the organization’s mission is to recognize, educate and advocate for dyslexic students in Summit County.

“I would love for people to really open their eyes more as to why this illiteracy crisis, you know, it's not just a factor of socioeconomic status," Aten said. "It's not just the lack of books in houses and there are things that we can do to improve those rates.”

PC Reads is hosting a free screening of “The Truth About Reading” because it aligns with the organization’s mission and it highlights the hidden illiteracy crisis in America.

“The film follows the story of two adult men who learned to read very late in life, two adult men who were very successful despite being considered illiterate, and interviews many experts who share why this was able to happen, and what we can do to make a positive change so that more children learn to read while they're in school,” she said.

According to the film, more than half of children nationwide are not reading at grade level. Aten said the statistics in Utah are similar.

“I think it's 33% of third graders are considered proficient. And I think the statistic in Utah is around 40%," Aten said. "And that also is one reason we have recent legislation last spring, Senate Bill 127, which is early literacy outcomes improvement. And the goal through this bill is to increase in Utah that statistic to 70%, through training teachers and bringing effective reading instruction into the curriculum based on the science of reading.”

Aten said even though reading is one of the most researched and studied areas of education, the research hasn’t made it into teacher training or curriculum. She explained that 40% of people will just naturally be able to read because their brain is wired a certain way.

“And the other 60% really need to be effectively taught through structured literacy, which means breaking things down, explicitly understanding the rules of the English language, understanding why words are spelled, understanding the morphology, the meaning behind words. And I am not an expert in that; I don't teach kids how to read. But I do understand that the science is there to say that if you teach all kids this way, it will benefit all versus just, you know, a few kids.”

Aten said it will take time for current research to make into the classrooms.

“I think it's going to take time because teachers need to have this training. They need to be able to implement it," she said. "It's going to take money for school districts across the nation to change their curriculum and the support of communities while this change is being made.”

“The Truth About Reading” screening is 7 p.m. at the Santy Auditorium in the Park City Library at 1255 Park Ave.

Tickets are free but registration is required.

There will be a panel after the film.