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PAGE TURNER

Reader interview: Literacy and knowledge empower

Saturday, July 19, 2014 - 1:19 pm

Editor's note: This week's Page Turner reader interview is with Mike Landram, executive director of The Literacy Alliance.

"Reading is an important part of my being here at The Literacy Alliance. Most of my book reading is nonfiction: history, business, leadership, topical. Right now, I am reading 'Literacy Is Power,' written by Cassandra Lewis Slattery. I found the title attractive and saw excellent reviews, so read the book. The author has enjoyed tremendous success, especially with New York people; they wanted an expert. She writes of the secrets to success and urges finding ways to bridge what the reader already knows with what he or she will learn.

"That has a lot of truth for working with people who don't have high school diplomas — meeting one on one and working with a first-grade reader, for example. There is a lot to learn, like filling out application blanks and reading prescription information — things we must comprehend.. The people who show up here now are working on a functional literacy problem which needs fixing. So they get encouragement and support.

"Keith Busse suggested I read Ken Iverson's 'Plain Talk: Lessons from a Business Maverick.' It's about Nucor Steel and leading it to become a large, successful company. He writes about the the importance of trusting management and getting people to work together. He was described as people's mentor. The book includes examples of how they created a 'Give people the whole story.' If the workers understand a situation, they will work to make it better. Knowledge is empowerment. Look at the entire situation.

"One book of fiction stands out from when I was much younger — from my school years. It's 'The Great Gatsby.' I have a deep fascination for that period; it is so interesting. And I have enjoyed the movie, too. Very few movies can take me out of the present, but this one did. And the book is definitely a favorite."