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The Mountain Home Chamber of Commerce and the Baxter County Library will be hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Hickory Park’s all-inclusive children’s playground to celebrate the new installation of another “Little Free Library” in Mountain Home.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place this Thursday at noon.
Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization based in St. Paul, Minnesota. Its mission is to be a catalyst for building community, inspiring readers, and expanding book access through a global network of volunteer-led Little Free Libraries.
Little Free Library achieves that mission by providing year-round free book access, with each book-sharing box open seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
There are currently 150,000 plus Little Free Libraries worldwide in over 100 countries, with over 70 million books being shared annually. On average, one book is shared per drop box each day.
Today in the United States, more than 30 million adults cannot read or write above a third-grade level. Studies have repeatedly shown that books in children’s hands have a meaningful impact on improving literacy. The more books in or near the home, the more likely a child will learn and love to read. But two out of three children living in poverty have no books to call their own.
According to ProLiteracy, a reading program used to help teach adult students to read by the council, literacy is defined as the ability to understand, evaluate, use and engage with written text to participate in society, to achieve one’s goals, and to develop one’s knowledge and potential.
In the U.S., the ability to read can dictate several things, from high school drop-out rates, to incarceration, employment, and civic engagement.
And while literacy rates climbed in the U.S. from 2000 to 2017, 23 million American adults still lack high school credentials, which means lower work wages across the board. Those workers 25 and older without a high school education have the highest unemployment rate, clocking in at 5.4%.
Those that do have jobs rank among the lowest median earners in the country, bringing home an average of $592 a week.
A quick look at the Program for the International Assessment for Adult Competencies (PIAAC) Skills Map shows that Baxter County is maintaining a literacy average comparable to that of the entire state.
PIAAC breaks down literacy into three levels. Adults sitting at level one or below are at risk for difficulties with literacy. Adults at the upper end of this level can read short texts and understand the meaning enough to perform simple tasks. However, they may have difficulty piecing together multiple sources of information. These adults tend to have a limited vocabulary.
They represent 18% of Baxter County residents. The remaining 72% of residents fall between level two, near proficiency, and level three, proficient. Those numbers are 38% and 44%, respectively.
Out of Arkansas’s 100 counties, Baxter County ranks sixth in literacy. It ranks 95th out of 100 for those with literacy levels below level one.