In September 2013, The Huffington Post reported that according to a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy, approximately 32 million adults in the United States are not able to read. This equates to 14 percent of the U.S. population. Twenty-one percent of adults in the United States read below a fifth-grade level and 19 percent of high school graduates can't read at all.  Based on recent statistics from the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, 14 percent of adult Americans demonstrated a "below basic" literacy level in 2003, and 29 percent exhibited a "basic" reading level. That said, according to The Huffington Post, the current literacy rate isn't any better now than it was 10 years ago. 

"According to the Department of Justice, "The link between academic failure and delinquency, violence and crime is welded to reading failure." The stats back up this claim: 85 percent of all juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate, and more than 70 percent of inmates in America's prisons cannot read above a fourth-grade level, according to  Economic security, access to healthcare and the ability to actively participate in civic life all depend on an individual's ability to read. Visit the American Library Association to learn more about what libraries are doing—and what you can do—to promote literacy. Your contribution can be as simple as reading stories to young relatives, volunteering to read at your local school or donating your unwanted books to libraries and organizations such as Housing Works."

What else can you do?

  • Pray for and reach out to those in your sphere of influence who struggle with English.
  • Meet with your pastor or church staff to discuss literacy needs in your community.
  • Invite your friends and neighbors who struggle to speak English into your home. They need to learn by speaking with English speakers.
  • Take a class in teaching English.
  • Sit in on tutoring classes. It is easier to teach English than you might  think.

Many people in your community need to be tutored, whether children in an after-school environment or an adult community group. A large number of Baptist state conventions offer assistance in learning how to prepare people to tutor others. Check the 2015 State Literacy Coordinators & Staff listing to find your state representative and to discover training opportunities and additional support. 

National Literacy Missions Partnershipin partnership with the North American Mission Board, is a network of Southern Baptist state convention leaders and volunteers who are committed to reaching people for Christ through literacy missions ministries: English as a Second Language (ESL), English as a Foreign Language (EFL), Tutoring Children and Youth (TCY) and Adult Reading and Writing (ARW).  The partnership promotes literacy missions ministries, trains workers and supports state conventions as they begin and continue literacy missions ministries to meet the needs of the community while sharing Christ.  Proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ is our primary objective.  Assisting those in need reflects our view of being made in the image of God.  We value others.

Find out more at National Literacy Missions Partnership or by sending an email to the National Literacy Coordinator, Claudean Boatman, at

Below are some videos that can assist you in your outreach.

  • Teaching adult low-level readers to improve their reading and writing skills. Watch Video > 
  • Tutoring children and youth. Watch Video > 
  • Teaching English as a Second Language (ESOL) or Conversational English. Watch Video > 
 2015 TCY Poster PDF

Links & Resources

Adult Reading and Writing* 

Adult Bible Lessons 

Tutoring Children and Youth*

Teaching English Language Learners the Good News Workshop Manual
(Previously Conversational English Workshop Manual)

Teaching English as a Foreign Language 

English Lessons from the Bible: Book of Mark 

Copyright Permissions Agreement

To print multiple copies of these documents, some companies request a copyright permissions agreement beforehand. Complete the section at the end of the attached Copyright Permissions Agreement that notes “For Licensee.” Print the form out, sign it, scan it and then email the form to for NAMB’s signature. Please allow two business days to receive the final signed agreement.


  • "Workshop Packets" are received as a sample at the leadership workshop 
  • TCY workshop manual should be obtained from the workshop leader to duplicate.