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One of the biggest impacts on an adult's life is how they spend 10 minutes a day as a child.

Think when adults aren't successful it's due to the choices they've made in their lives? Not always. It often has to do with how they started out. Doing one thing for 10 minutes every day could change someone's whole future.

Nearly 1 billion people worldwide can't read this sentence.

And it has nothing to do with the language it's written in.

See, in America, some estimates say around 12% of children grow up without basic reading skills.

Meanwhile, Save the Children, over in the UK, estimates over 1.5 million British children will suffer the same fate by 2025.


And things are even worse in many developing countries.

Which is a big problem.

And while it's dangerous to to draw a cause and effect relationship, there is a strong correlation between reading ability by third grade, graduation rates, and ultimately, incarceration rates.

Literacy is an issue right here at home. Here's President Obama working with kids during a literacy project. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

But even when kids who are failed by the reading curriculum don't wind up dropping out of school, or worse, in jail, they're still likely to face enormous challenges throughout their lives.

According to the Literacy Foundation, the problems with illiteracy are vast.

On a personal level, people who can't read have trouble getting and holding down high quality jobs. They're also prone to low self-esteem, or self-efficacy, and more likely to battle depression.

Other issues are more abstract. Those who suffer from illiteracy struggle to understand and keep up with big cultural issues like global warming and equal rights. They're less likely, as a result, to become positively involved in their communities.

But it's not hopeless. There's a lot you can do to help raise the literacy rate.

Getting kids excited about reading in a group is super important. Photo from ThinkStock

For starters, read to your kids often and encourage them to spend time with great books. Even if it's only 10 minutes a day.

If you can, start a book club for your child and her friends, or even for you and yours! Creating a structured environment for reading and discussion can have a big impact.

You can also donate books, whether to your favorite charity or through a local book drive. Just do what you can to help more kids have access to reading materials.

Finally, you can contribute to organizations already fighting illiteracy around the world, like PlanetRead and Books for Africa, and help them get the resources they need to keep going.

Whatever you do, don't overlook the importance of reading proficiency among children.

The stakes are way too high.

And if you're still not convinced, watch this powerful video from Save the Children about the roots and consequences of our worldwide literacy problem.

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

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