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Two Adult Learners Celebrate Reading by Publishing Books


Two Adult Learners Celebrate Reading by Publishing Books

Earl Mills learned to read in his 40s.

Milton Whitley learned to read at age 52.

Now, both men are published authors.

Mills’ book, From Illiterate To Poet, is a collection of 50 of his poems on topics ranging from literacy to his deep religious faith. While Mills always had an early interest in poetry, his learning to read opened up a deep well of powerful poems.

Whitley’s autobiography, Learning to Read at Age 52, details his life story from a difficult childhood, problems in school, and coping with addictions to the joys of his new life, which resulted from learning to read.

“Milton and Earl are examples of how transformative literacy can be,” says Mark Cass, vice president of community engagement at ProLiteracy. “For most of their adult lives, both men hid their inability to read or write from those around them. They also harbored self-doubt, even as they longed to gain this vital skill. Milton held down a variety of jobs; Earl has had a long career in manufacturing as he raised and supported a family. Learning to read and write has brought each of them even more than they thought it would. Being able to publish their own writing now is a true celebration and shows the importance of education for everyone.”

Mills’ book can be purchased at or at and Whitley’s book is available through the Literacy Council of Montgomery County.

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