Adult new readers: the impact on family

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Virginia Tech


The purpose of this research was to explore the changes that occurred in marital, child and family of origin relationships when an adult who was previously illiterate became literate. Eleven adult new readers participated in in-depth interviews. The results indicate that learning to read is not an isolated skill but changes the "self" of the new reader and subsequently his or her interactional patterns with family members. Six of the participants marriages improved, three of the marriages were ambivalent and two of the marriages deteriorated. All relationships with children improved. Relationships with family of origin members varied. The various outcomes were connected to the levels of support participants received and to how much the participants had previously defined their identities and their lives in relation to their previous illiteracy.