Basic Literacy for All

The goal of free public education is to educate children of all economic classes to a level of basic literacy.

Most children are capable of achieving a level of basic literacy by the age of thirteen.

Three of every ten children who begin first grade will drop out before completing high school. For this reason, every effort should be made to see that children achieve a level of Basic Literacy by the time they have completed the Eighth Grade.

The American English Doctor site provides free information and guidelines for achieving Basic Literacy and above. The intended audience for this information is parents, teachers, and English learners of every age. Nominally priced printed materials will become available as I develop the site.

Four Levels of Literacy

What’s Your Literacy Level?

L-1 Functional Literacy
A person who has achieved a level of Functional Literacy is able to read such texts as these:

National literacy statistics for the United States indicate that as many as 23 percent of adult Americans–44 million men and women–have not reached this level of literacy.   Functional Literacy checklist.

L-2 Basic Literacy
A person who has achieved a level of Basic Literacy has the ability to read such texts as these:

US literacy statistics indicate that 50% of adults cannot read a book written at an eighth grade level. Basic Literacy checklist.

L-3 Proficient Literacy
A person who has achieved a level of Proficient Literacy has the ability to read texts such as these:

Surveys show that the average reading level of the top 40 books read by US teens in grades 9-12 is 5.3, barely above the fifth grade level. High  school graduates who plan to pursue post-secondary education should reach this level of literacy. Proficiency Literacy checklist.

L-4 Advanced Literacy
A person who has achieved a level of Advanced Literacy has the ability to read texts such as these:

Checklist for Advanced Literacy

A comparatively few individuals will read at this level. Not everybody wants to, and that’s all right.

The ability to function at a level of Basic Literacy is sufficient for most human needs and occupations in 21st century society.

The appalling fact about the literacy landscape in the United States is that so many Americans have been exposed to 6-8 years of formal education without achieving the level of Basic Literacy.

Advice to parents of young children
Lay the foundation for literacy before your child begins school at the age of five or six. Children who are talked to, read to, and played with at home will develop the fundamentals necessary for reading success. It doesn’t matter what your own level of literacy is. You can find the guidelines you need here at the American English Doctor.

Some US Literacy Statistics


M. J. Maddox, PhD 
is the American English Doctor.