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Reading and Adult Literacy Mayor reading to elementary students

Mayor Karl Dean believes that reading is the basic building block for all other learning. A 2007 report by Reach Out and Read said less than half of young children in Tennessee are read to daily. National studies show children who enter kindergarten without pre-reading skills never catch up.

Adult literacy is also a critical issue for Nashville. A Community Needs Assessment for Adult Literacy released in 2010 found that 12 percent of adult Davidson County residents lack basic reading and comprehension skills and many do not have a high school diploma or GED certificate. In addition, there is a growing number of adults that need access to the proper supports and learning opportunities to acquire English language proficiency. Local economic development and local businesses depend on a skilled and literate workforce.

Mayor Dean has supported community-based services for literacy and English as a Second Language (ESL) by including funding in the city's operating budget for organizations that offer adult education classes. The funds are dispersed through a grant program called the Community Enhancement Fund.

To find help with adult literacy, ESL or acquiring a GED, see the list of 2013 Adult Education Providers.

Limitless Libraries

Limitless Libraries logo

In 2009, Mayor Karl Dean helped form a partnership between Metro Nashville Public Schools and the Nashville Public Library to provide students with access to the entire collections of the public library system through their school libraries. The partnership included the Public Library recommending specific steps to improve the school libraries, including purging outdated books and purchasing new ones to help the school libraries meet state standards for volumes and quality of materials.

Limitless Libraries began as a pilot project in three high schools. Since then, Mayor Dean committed funding in the city's budget to expand the program every year - first to all 16 high area high schools and then to middle schools. In 2012, Limitless Libraries was expanded to elementary schools, meaning it is now available in all 128 traditional Metro schools. Students in these schools can choose from a selection of over 1.6 million items in the public library system and their partner libraries, including books, DVDs, CDs, e-books and other resource materials.

Since Limitless Libraries was created, the number of students with public library cards has increased dramatically. As of the fall of 2012, more than 23,000 students had become new library card holders. In the first two months of the 2012-2013 school year, these students checked out over 25,000 items - nearly 40 times the number of items checked out by Metro school students just two years prior.

Mayor Dean is proud of what Limitless Libraries has accomplished and is committed to seeing it succeed going forward.

For more information about the Limitless Libraries program, visit the official website at

Share A Book Share A Book logo

Share A Book is a Mayor Karl Dean's multi-faceted reading campaign to encourage families to read to young children, promote adult literacy, educate residents about the Nashville Public Library system and promote volunteer opportunities to help spread literacy in the community.

Three easy ways to share a book:

  1. Share a book with your kids, and the kids around you. Read to your children, every day, no matter how old or young they are. Encourage your kids to read. Respect their interests, and encourage new ones. Make sure your kids always have a book in hand - a library book or a book of their own.
  2. Share a book with one another. Each of us should read, to explore worlds real and imagined, to see things through someone else’s eyes, to understand others’ ideas. Talk about what you read with others - on the bus, in the market, in your neighborhood. Reading can bring us together as a community, and build bridges between very different people.
  3. Share a book at the public library. Nashville’s public library is for all of us, and the Mayor wants every person in Nashville to have a library card. It doesn't cost anything to use the library! Library cards are easy to get, and the librarians are happy to help you. The library has all kinds of books, music, and movies, for adults and children. There are always lots of activities going on at libraries, for kids and adults. No matter where you live, there is a library near you, and all the libraries are accessible by bus.

Resources for sharing a book:

Nashville Public Library

  • How to get a library card: Complete information about how to obtain a library card is available on the Nashville Public Library's website. Any resident of Davidson County can get a library card; you do not have to be a citizen. Children can get a card with their parent. There are only three steps:
  1. Go to any library.
  2. Bring documents showing: your birth date, your current street address, and a photo ID (such as a school ID or driver’s license).
  3. Ask any librarian to help you get a library card. They’ll be happy to help you!

Would you like to receive a free book every month for your young child?

Are you an adult who wants to improve your reading skills, or further your education?

Would you like to volunteer, to read to a child, help an adult learn to read, or share books with children?