Reading is a basic requirement of everyday life, and for many of us it is a skill we take for granted. Yet there are 2.4 million adults in England alone who can barely read or cannot read at all (Skills for Life Survey, 2011, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills – latest government figures). In turn, people who struggle with reading may also struggle with writing and have quite limited spoken vocabulary. 

Learning to read as an adult can be life-changing. The benefits can extend beyond the individual and enable families to break the inter-generational cycle of literacy difficulties.

There are lots of reasons that someone may need support to improve their reading skills including: 

  • A learning difference such as dyslexia, autism or ADHD
  • Their need for extra support not being recognised or fulfilled at school 
  • Relearning after a brain injury 


Being unable to read impacts daily life in so many ways. In some areas of the UK, up to 10% of working age adults would struggle to or not be able to: 

  • Write a short note to their family 
  • Fill in a form – for a job, a service or support 
  • Understand important communications such as letters, emails and household bills  
  • Access essential information on topics like food allergens, healthcare and safety  
  • Read a story to their children 
  • Complete simple tasks like using a cash point, doing the food shopping or reading travel information 
Donna explains what happened when her son developed a nut allergy and she couldn't read.

“I would see friends running businesses and buying houses and none of that was accessible to me. My confidence was rock bottom, and I didn’t think I was capable of anything… Now I want to know I have achieved something in life and to show my kids that you can do anything if you put your mind to it.”

Johnathan - Reader, Read Easy Wythenshawe