Wednesday, September 8, 2010

International Literacy Day

Today is International Literacy Day, and I'm thinking how lucky I am to be literate. I'm so lucky to have had a free education available to me, and to have lived in a country where it is my right (and my privilege!) to be educated. I rejoice that I can read and write. I'm delighted I can add my voice to the voice of the many who uphold literacy as vital.

Why is literacy important?

Literacy is a human right, a tool of personal empowerment and a means for social and human development. Educational opportunities depend on literacy.

Literacy is at the heart of basic education for all, and essential for eradicating poverty, reducing child mortality, curbing population growth, achieving gender equality and ensuring sustainable development, peace and democracy. There are good reasons why literacy is at the core of Education for All (EFA).

A good quality basic education equips pupils with literacy skills for life and further learning; literate parents are more likely to send their children to school; literate people are better able to access continuing educational opportunities; and literate societies are better geared to meet pressing development .

Today I'm thinking of people in the world right now who aren't so lucky. According to UNESCO, "one in five adults is still not literate and two-thirds of them are women while 72 million children are out of school." I am refusing to feel helpless in the face of such figures, and wondering what I can do to make a difference, even for just one child.

Today I'm celebrating literacy. I'm thinking back to my favourite childhood books, and re-visiting them in my mind. I'm looking at the books in my study, pulling some off the shelves, reading snippets, grinning, remembering, feeling glad. Glad to be part of the cyber book-loving and literacy-loving community. Glad to have cyber friends and friends in real life with whom I can share books and my love for them. Glad to have a son who, despite a rocky couple of years in a bookless wilderness as a teenager, emerged as a reader, and loves to read.

Today, I'm asking you to think about how your own literacy has impacted your life, and that of your children. Will you set aside some special time today to consider all your books, and be grateful for the gift of reading? Will you ask your kids to choose their favourite books and bring them to a family book party? Will you take some time to write about what literacy means to you, and share it with others? Will you consider contributing in your own way to International Literacy Day?

What will YOU do to celebrate International Literacy Day?

(You can also read about International Literacy Day on Ummah Reads : Guide to Books and Media for Muslim Children & Teens.)


Find other articles about literacy on my blog: 
20 Ways to Incorporate Literacy into Kids' Lives

LEGO and Literacy (2)  LEGO and Literacy (1)  Use Puppets to Encourage Literacy
Using Toys as a Springboard for Writing
and there are free pdfs for parents related to literacy
on my website.

(Image credit: Stuck in Customs, Flickr.)


  1. Hi Susan:

    What a beautiful post! You've really got me thinking about how privileged I am to have had access to libraries, books in my home and good reading role models while growing up. It's sad when we think that too many children growing in so many parts of the world today don't have these privileges let alone their right to a basic education. But it would be truly sad if we didn't do anything about it. And that's why we blog, write, review and share what we can to make a difference.

    A BIG thank-you for the link to my blog.

    Best wishes
    Editor, UmmahReads

  2. Saara, we sure are privileged. It breaks my heart to think of kids growing up without those literacy gifts. I'd love to think our blogs make a difference!

  3. Paula (Belgium)09 September, 2010

    What a wonderful post. I had no clue it is International Literacy Day. My daughter was sick, so I had my mind on caring for her. However, it is painful and good to think about all those kids without education and without delightful books.
    I will celebrate this day with packing a few books for our friends in East-Europe. And I will order a book I read in my youth and like to read aloud to my daughter. It is the Future King by T.E. White.
    Great post & many thanks.

  4. Literacy is something to celebrate! We often take it for granted but being literate is life changing and powerful. I intend to celebrate by taking some time today in the library and a local book store :-D

  5. Your plans sound great, Paula! I hope your daughter is better soon and back to creating and learning and having fun!

  6. Sounds great, Kelly!

  7. Esther Irish10 September, 2010

    Literacy it big at our house! Thank you!

  8. That's great, Esther!


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