The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Lifestyles

June 18, 2010

Local man takes on fight against illiteracy

PRINCETON — Bob Clausen, 61, of Princeton, was in his 30s when he learned to read.

Bob grew up in Clinton. He had difficulty in school and could not grasp reading. Bob said now he knows part of his problem was that he simply needed glasses. He said another part of his problem is dyslexia. When Bob was 10, after he had failed first grade once and the second grade twice, the school system told his parents he could not be taught.

Bob was sent to Baldwin School, where other children with learning and physical disabilities went. He said no one even attempted to teach the students how to read. Instead the students worked on arts and crafts all day.

“There was no learning things there, as far as maps or a globe of the world. There was strictly looms to make pot holders and rugs,” said Bob.

When he was 13, Bob convinced his parents that he did not belong at that school and they got him into St. John’s Lutheran School. He was placed in the fourth grade. At that time, his teacher noticed him having difficulty reading the blackboard and told him that he should have an eye exam. It was then discovered that he had myopia and astigmatism, which effected his vision.

Despite getting glasses and being able to see, Bob still could not read. He was too far behind and did not want anyone to know. He began memorizing words and faking his way through school. This is something he continued into adulthood.

“You learn to disguise that, to have things in life that everyone wants,” said Bob.

He said only his wife at the time knew that he could not read. When he would have paperwork involved with his job, he would bring it home at night and she would help him with it.

“And a lot of people see what I've done as — what I've done and other people that do this for survival — as trickery. And it wasn't ever meant to be. It's what you do to survive in a world of people that can read,” said Bob.

In the early 1980s, Bob decided he wanted to learn to read. He looked around the community and found a program at Clinton Community College.

“And I never thought a college would have programs like this,” said Bob.

Bob was paired with a teacher and spent three years learning to read.

“And one day, the light finally came on and away I went. I was just reading like anybody else,” said Bob.

Bob has spent the past 30 years working to help in the fight against illiteracy. After learning to read, Bob was featured in a story by 20/20. Through this recognition, he ended up on the Iowa Literacy Council. He is also a part of Value USA. Bob speaks publicly on the subject as well.

“Everybody thinks you're the only one that has this problem,” said Bob. “Then they find out there's a lot of people out there with their problem.”

Bob will work one-on-one with adults wanting to learn to read. He will set them up with a tutor and get them on the right path. Bob said last year he testified in front of Congress to represent the state of Iowa. He said Value USA works with Congress to try to free money for adult literacy. He said they also work to get people to understand the problem.

“And to get people to understand that because you have a reading problem, you're not stupid. As a matter of fact, these people are quite intelligent,” said Bob.

Bob has also recently written a book about his life and struggle with illiteracy, “An Illiterate in the Closet.” This book details his childhood in Clinton, his first marriage, learning to read, his divorce and his marriage to his high school sweetheart. Bob said the book is written for new readers, but does not insult a good reader. The book is available at a variety of book stores, including Book World, 321 Fifth Ave. South. Bob said he is working to organize a book signing at Book World.

Anyone wanting more information about Bob and his public speaking can visit http://showcase.netins.net/web/speakwithbob.

Bob said that people who never struggled with reading probably cannot understand what a gift it is to learn to read.

He said in some of his presentations, he will talk about “The Wizard of Oz.” Bob will talk about the wizard giving the Scarecrow, Tin Man and cowardly Lion the brains, heart and courage they felt was lacking.

Bob said he makes the point that the wizard does not give them anything they did not already have there.

“When you learn to read, you get your heart back. You get your brain back and you get your courage back. Because along the way, all those years growing up, it's taken away from you,” said Bob.

1
Text Only
Lifestyles
  • Way of the Cross photo The Way of the Cross By Amy Kent Herald Staff Writer The Way of the Cross

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen shot 2014-04-18 at 4.44.15 PM.png Paint, doodle and sketch: 3 apps for art lovers

    In the absence of a palette of watercolors and a sketchpad, these three apps can fill in as your art supplies of choice.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Costume jewelry popular at auction It was a large and varied auction on April 12 at the National Guard Armory and by the start of the auction more than 100 people had already registered for their bidding number, and 30 to 40 additional people showed up during the first 20 minutes of t

    April 19, 2014

  • Student leadership Alumni honor students at luncheon CLINTON -- Clinton Community College student leaders were recognized at a student leader luncheon. The CCC Alumni Association honored 30 students, who were nominated by the CCC staff and faculty for showing leadership in the classroom, on campus and

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • EICC to host career fair DAVENPORT-- Manufacturing jobs are available for those who look for them. Eastern Iowa Community College's Blong Technology Center is helping in that search with its upcoming Advanced Manufacturing Career Fair, from 2 to 6 p.m April 29. Several area

    April 18, 2014

  • CCC Veterans Association host 'Honor Flight' showing CLINTON -- The Clinton Community College Student Veterans Association will be host a public showing of the Honor Flight Movie at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 8. The movie will be shown at Clinton Community College Auditorium, 1000 Lincoln Blvd., Clinton. The

    April 17, 2014

  • Sound of Music Screenings showcase films at TLP MOUNT CARROLL, Ill. -- Timber Lake Playhouse will host two events next month. A sing-along "Sound of Music" event will be held at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, May 3, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 4, at the Mount Carroll theater. A screening of "Young Frankenstein

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • April is Donate Life Month

    CLINTON -- The month of April is National Donate Life Month across the United States. Hospitals across the nation, like Mercy Medical Center in Clinton, join to recognize the impact that organ and tissue donations make and to honor the generosity of

    April 17, 2014

  • Screen shot 2014-04-11 at 4.49.09 PM.png Train, entertain your pets with these 3 smartphone apps

    While they may not have thumbs to use the phone, pets can benefit from smartphone apps designed specifically for them.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Alternatives available for addicts DEAR ANNIE: I enjoy reading your column and agree with most of your advice, including your recommendations when it comes to handling alcohol addictions and binge drinking. I do not work in this field, but I've seen alternatives to AA that may be more

    April 12, 2014

Elections
Front page
Clinton Herald Photos


Browse, buy and submit pictures with our photo site.

Poll

Should the city of Clinton appeal the open records violation ruling that will cost taxpayers $40,600?

Yes
No
     View Results
AP Video
Olympics 2014
Featured Comment
Featured Ads
Blue Zones Project
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.