Status: Original release 2000

The Will to Read: Estel Sizemore’s Story presents one man’s inspirational efforts to overcome illiteracy and dyslexia. This half-hour documentary follows the life of Estel Sizemore who overcame incredible obstacles to become a nationally recognized ambassador for adult literacy. The Will to Read was broadcast on regional public, commercial and cable stations beginning in 2000. Estel Sizemore worked as a child to help his family survive the Great Depression on a hardscrabble farm in th Appalachian Mountains near Hyden, Kentucky. School was a luxury. Mr. Sizemore, unable to read or write, left home at age fourteen in search of “factory jobs” in Cincinnati. He hid his illiteracy and dyslexia from his family, friends and co-workers for forty years until a workplace accident took away his ability to earn a living through manual labor. At this time, Estel vowed to learn to read well enough to help his great granddaughter, Ashley, with her schoolwork. Mr. Sizemore not only fulfilled his personal promise, he became an effective spokesman for literacy programs across America.This award-winning programfeatures an original soundtrack with the music by Cincinnati bluegrass artists Katie Laur and Ed Cunningham. The Will to Read reached over 400,000 viewers, teachers and students in the Ohio Valley during its first year of distribution. The documentary DVD remains an important educational resource for libraries and literacy centers, especially in the recruitment of learners, tutors and volunteers.


Bronze Award, Education Division, The Columbus International Film & Video Festival, 2001.


The WIll to Read: DVD order form



The Will to Read: Estel Sizemore’s Story was made possible with support from Charles and Martha Anness, The Ohio Department of Education, the Ohio Arts Council and the Scripps Howard Foundation.