Many men and women manage to get by at a very low level of literacy that does not include the ability to read a novel or a how-to book.This level of survival literacy brings with it a lifetime of stress and frustration. It falls below my definition of basic literacy.
Not everyone is going to develop a love of Shakespeare, but everyone enjoys a story. Everybody has moments of loneliness and discouragement that can be made more bearable with the help of a book that entertains or encourages.
Not everyone wants to work in an occupation that requires a university degree. Most people, however, at some time in their lives, want to add to what they know, for reasons of advancement, or simply for the pleasure of knowing.
According to the American English Doctor’s definition, basic literacy…
…enables a personto read, without difficulty, a novel written for a general audience.
…enables a person to read, with understanding, a nonfiction book on any topic of interest written for a general audience.
…enables a person to speak a standard form of the native language when required for business communication or social courtesy
…enables a person to write a simple coherent note or letter that conveys the person’s thoughts free of glaring errors of grammar, spelling, or English idiom.
Children of moderate intelligence can be expected to achieve a level of basic literacy by the completion of Grade Eight. Certainly any twelfth grader who is permitted to graduate from high school can be expected to have achieved the level of basic literacy defined here.
NOTE: In a reformed educational system, no student would be permitted to pass into the ninth grade who had not achieved basic literacy.