What is Reading Against the Odds?

Reading Against the Odds is a reading discussion group geared toward  students who are currently students in the Adult Literacy (AL) program at Literacy Chicago. The goal of group is to enhance literacy, critical thinking skills, self-awareness and interpersonal connections through group-based discussion of thematically arranged novels by diverse authors, and relevant cultural activities in the larger community. 

The notion of “Reading Against the Odds” is connected to the fact that while in the group, students are not only challenging conventional understandings about what they can achieve as adult literacy learners, but also that they are engaging with writers, texts or even ideas that are often culturally marginalized.

The group meets twice a week for two hours. Students are encouraged to both read aloud and read along with audiotaped versions of each book. We have also had outside guests, including poet, writer, and social worker Useni Eugene Perkinsnoted author Patrick Somerville and former Bulls star, Bob Love, read and/or lead discussions with students in the group. Writing assignments along with videos/movies and art activities also help learners understand both the content and the larger issues raised in the readings. Evaluations of the group have found increases in students reading scores, their reading confidence and their enjoyment of reading.

Reading Against the Odds has been meeting since 2007 and its inaugural year was funded by an American Association of University Women Community Action Grant. It is currently supported through funds provided by the Illinois Secretary of State.


Stuff of Interest

  • Up All Night Reading! RAO is happy to invite you to check out a new online exhibition about books.   All of the books are Children’s and YPL (Young People’s Literature) National Book ...
    Posted Jun 26, 2013, 1:04 PM by Leslie Reese
  • RAO Spring 2013 Updates! April – RAO had a special guest, Steve Leveen.  In 1987 Steve Leveen and his wife Lori Granger formed Levenger, a company that sells beautiful items for readers, writers, and thinkers ...
    Posted Jun 5, 2013, 5:47 PM by Leslie Reese
  • Rich Reading! RAO has really been engrossed by the story of Henrietta Lacks.  After reading that her oldest daughter---Elsie---had epileptic seizures during a time when people understood less about the ...
    Posted Apr 10, 2013, 2:22 PM by Leslie Reese
  • Winter 2013 Kicks off With a New Selection...  The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.  We are already trying to create mental pictures of the trillions of HeLa cells which have multiplied since 1951!
    Posted Jan 16, 2013, 3:57 PM by Leslie Reese
  • RAO Has Been Busy! Since our last post, RAO has had great discussions about voting, traveling, and tipping! In thinking about how books are nominated for the National Book award, RAO students imagined themselves ...
    Posted Feb 5, 2013, 10:23 AM by Leslie Reese
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