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Richie Allen, student

Richie Allen quit school at 16. He’s worked all his life at jobs he enjoyed, but they didn’t require much reading. His wife saw to any tasks that required reading and writing, so he didn’t see any particular need to read himself. Nor was he especially interested in reading. “I thought a dictionary was something you use to hold the door open,” he laughs.

When he retired in his 60’s, Richie found that he wanted to be able to write letters and read books, so he began working with a literacy tutor. Soon after that, his wife suffered a stroke. Suddenly, all the household paperwork was up to him.

That was six years ago. Today, Richie manages the home budgeting, bill paying, and cooking, and takes pride in his household organizational skills. He went back to work part-time and had the confidence to learn to use an iPad on the job.

He’s an avid reader now. “I have to read everything, no matter what it is,” he says. “I can’t go by a magazine rack at the store without reading what it has to say.” He reads the newspaper, Uncle Henry’s, and anything else that comes his way. He even joined a book club. And that dictionary? “It’s almost worn out,” Richie says.