"I didn't take it right. I admit it," her testimonial said. "I just didn't have they nerve to ask them and I didn't want anyone to know I couldn't read."
"It's a tremendous problem when you think about the costs for us, economically, health-wise," said Sandra Baxter, director of the National Institute for Literacy.
"For so many adults who don't have the education, it's embarrassing to have to say, would you explain that to me?" Baxter said of potential problems during a doctor appointment. "And so they don't ask the questions that they need to."
Undiagnosed learning disorders, poverty and an unstable home life are all factors.
As for Monica Baxley, she confronted her illiteracy at age 41 and learned to read. But illiteracy persists for millions who continue to live with it in the shadows.
If someone you know needs help, contact your library, or browse literacy resources HERE.
To read part 2 of the series Living in the Shadows: Illiteracy in America, click HERE.