RALEIGH, NC -- Since March is considered National March Into Literacy Month, it is a great time to consider the issue and what we can do to help make improvements. According to the National Coalition for Literacy (NCL), roughly 93 million adults in the U.S. have basic and below-basic literacy skills. Further, around 40 million adults in the country only read or write at or below the 5th Grade level, while another 21 million Americans are not able to read at all.

"We, as a nation, largely know that this issue needs to be addressed, not only so that we can stay competitive in a global marketplace, but so that we can also function on a higher level in our day-to-day lives," explains Sarah Gilbert, director of sales at Lulu.com, a self-publishing company. "And the good news is that there are a variety of ways to address it or provide someone with the help they need."

There is clearly room for improvement, and the good news is that there are quite a few ways that people can work to improve overall literacy. But first, it is important to have a clear idea of what literacy is. According to the NCL, literacy is "using printed and written information to function in society, to achieve one's goals, and to develop one's knowledge and potential."

Here are some tips for helping people to improve their literacy level:

â?¢ Literacy Council: many communities have a literacy council that can provide resources, including tutoring. Contact them to see what type of help they can provide. They are also usually seeking volunteers to work with those who need help, so people with good literacy skills may want to pitch in and help.

â?¢Take a class: adult education classes are offered in most communities, designed to help improve literacy skills. They can usually be found by contacting city recreation or education departments.

â?¢ Work with a tutor: getting one-on-one help can be quite effective. Tutors can often be provided through a literacy council or the public library, or found privately.

â?¢ Visit the library: the library is a wonderful resource for improving literacy. Today's libraries are usually stocked with educational materials in the form of books, games, and even classes, all of which can be helpful for improving skills.

â?¢ Read daily: the best way to improve literacy skills is to make it a point to read daily. Even starting out with the most basic books to gather information and learn skills can be helpful.

â?¢ Write books: for those who have a child in need of literacy assistance, consider writing personalized children's books for them. This may get them interested in reading more.

As a nation, America ranks 49th out of 165 nations when it comes to the literacy rate. Making it a goal to help others improve their literacy in turns helps the nation do better.

"Improving literacy skills can help people live more enriched lives," adds Gilbert. "Today, the resources and tools are available for anyone who wants to make improvements."

Lulu.com is an ongoing supporter of literacy initiatives, having created the Lulu for Literacy program. Through the program, each Lulu team member is encouraged to donate their time to literacy causes and even receive one paid day off per year in order to volunteer their time promoting literacy. Each team member then blogs about their experience and posts it on the company blog.

Lulu.com, a self-publishing company that was founded in 2002, provides complete services to authors. Parents have the ability to publish their own children's books through this service. Lulu.com's self-publishing service is provided free, and authors retain all rights, as well as 80 percent of all profit from sales. To learn more about using Lulu.com's publishing tools, log onto www.lulu.com/publish.

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