WILMINGTON–At 53 years old Steve Washington can read. A dream of his that came true thanks to Cape Fear Literacy Council in Wilmington. Literacy council coordinator Yasmin Tomkinson says, "It’s not easy to come and to deal with something that has been hard for you your whole life." Washington says the rewards of being able to read outweighed his initial embarrassment. When Steve started at the literacy council 3 years ago, he was reading Dr. Seuss. Today, his reading level is up to the 10th grade. "His tutors really helped him fill in those holes and build a foundation." Tomkinson says. According to the National Literacy Council -20% of Americans reading level is below the 5th grade -40 million Americans over the age of 16 have reading problems -43% of people with low reading levels live in poverty. Steve hopes his story inspires others. He’s attending Cape Fear Community College to earn his GED. "Not only will I benefit from this," Washington says, "But my kids, my wife, my community, my church, my job." The Cape Fear Literacy Council is free for anyone who desires to read. You can contact their office at 251-0911.