Did you know that according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, there are projected to be close to 1 billion adults in the world that are illiterate?
That’s 25% of the adult population in the entire world that cannot read, write, or know the joys of the written word. With two-thirds of numbers belonging to women and girls alone. Research shows that education, especially the education of women and girls, is one of the most effective ways to fight global poverty and extremism.
According to the Global Campaign for Education, no country has ever achieved continuous and rapid economic growth without first having at least 40% of its adults able to read and write.
Even in the United States literacy rates are dropping. In a 2013 U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy study showed that 32 million adults, nearly 14% percent of the general population, cannot read and 21% of adults in the U.S. read below a 5th-grade level, and 19% of high school graduates can’t read at job proficient levels.
But issues of literacy do not reside solely at the public school doors. Other American education statistics regularly show that and there is no systematic state-by-state record of the percentage of homeschooling children that suffer educational neglect, poor academic performance, or have never received proper IEP services, particularly in terms of learning disabilities such as Auditory Processing Disorder (APD), Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, Dyslexia, and Language Processing Disorder (LPD).
As many homeschooling statistics are composed not of sample data but instead represent findings ascertained from interest group recruits, volunteers, and paid participants. None of which give accurate literacy statistics for those homeschooled in this nation.
This can also be true of many private schools. As many independent charter and private religious schools do not receive federal funding and are not always mandated to follow Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that prohibits discrimination based upon disability, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a four-part legislation that ensures students with a disability are provided with Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) tailored to their individual needs, and in some cases are not subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ACA), a 1990 civil rights law that prohibits acts of discrimination based on individual disability.
Which makes facilitating the need to increase rates of literacy across the board for all public, private, charter, and homeschooling students to be of the utmost public importance. For until educational literacy goals are met for every American student, regardless of your educational styling, we will not fully prosper as a nation.
Which brings me to the significance of today, International Literacy Day. A day where the importance and impact of literacy on a child’s future are brought to the forefront for every man, woman, child, parent, and teacher in this nation. Despite such bleak reminders, there is still hope for falling literacy rates. We can help show the world the importance of literacy by celebrating International Literacy Day and every other day of the year.
Despite the reminder of such bleak statistics, literacy is nothing if not audacious in nature. We as a people can help show the world the importance of learning by celebrating and honoring International Literacy Day each and every other day of the year.
If you’re looking for ideas, check out these 13 ways that you can raise awareness for International Literacy Day at home:
Educate people on illiteracy facts: People who cannot read are more likely to drop out of high school, have poorer health, and will face more limited job growth throughout their lives. Share facts on social media or with people in your inner circles on how illiteracy can help liberate others from poverty! Share with them this universal truth: The best way to end poverty is through generational wealth. And generational wealth begins with an education founded on the principles of literacy.
Tutor an adult or child in your community: Ask your local public library for a list of volunteer reading and illiteracy programs. Give others the greatest gift you can, the love of the written word!
Start a book club: A book club is a great way to get others in your town excited about reading. Invite a circle of friends to your home, pick a new book each month, and get together each week to discuss it. Looking to save money on starting a book club? Consider using free Kindle Books! For ideas and more information on how to start a book club, click here.
Cultivate a book drive: Does your child’s classroom, school, or kid’s annex at your local library need books? A book drive can help! Drives are a great way to help raise money for a reading or literacy after-school program. For tips on starting a book drive in your area, click here!
Volunteer at your local public library: Libraries are an important learning hub in many communities and are intricate means to help foster a love of learning for many children. Volunteer at your library. Ask about afterschool reading programs, summer reading series or weekend storytelling programs.
Sponsor a read-a-thon in your community: Spark community interest in literacy by hosting a reading marathon. Encourage children and adults to read as many books as possible in a given time frame. Ask local businesses to sponsor prizes and incentives for readers. Or if you’re looking to get your family involved in an existing incentivized literacy program check out Pizza Hut’s Book-It Program, a program I participated in as a child myself!
Host a speaker: Invite a local author, professor, teacher, poet, or historian to discuss the impact literacy has had on his or her life. Looking for an impactful speaker? Invite a volunteer involved in a reading charity, or a Peace Corps member, who can share with your audience how literacy affected the community where they lived and worked as a volunteer.
Start a Little Free Library: The Little Free Library is an organization that creates small book exchanges where anyone in the community can stop and pick up a book and brings another book back to share. Little Free Libraries help encourage a love of reading and with over 30,000 registered locations around the world, it’s easy to start one in your community. For more information, click here.
Tutor a refugee or immigrant in your community: Contact your local Migration and Refugee Services center in your area to sign-up for volunteer opportunities to help individuals and families adjust and assimilate to their new communities by way of better English language and literacy rates. Remember, our ancestors, our people, all came to this country as immigrants, refugees, pirates, and dissenters in one way, fashion, or time. Some trips had better accommodations and situations than others. But one thing remains the same, we all needed help once we reached these shores!
Use your literacy skills to fight injustices: We all know how closely tied literacy rates are to poverty and social unrest. Utilize your love of the written word for change to fuel your focus for social change by writing letters on behalf of Amnesty International USA. Your words can help fight injustice around the world for those have been wrongfully imprisoned because of who they are or what they believe. Rights for refugees, reproductive rights, LGBTQ equality, free speech, the death penalty, worker’s rights, fair trade practices, and other critical human rights issues. Including education and literacy worldwide. In fact, your girl here chartered her college’s inaugural chapter in 2005 and I can attest to the good these awesome folks do!
Use the power of the press: Have a teacher in your area that goes above and beyond to foster a love of learning for his or her students? Know of students who are making great literacy strides? Contact your local newspaper with just such a story about. Share how literacy has impacted lives of those in your community in real and lasting ways! Turn your local newspaper into a beacon for positive human interest story in your neck of the woods!
Give a book as a gift: What better way of honoring World Literacy Day than giving the gift of the written word? In your gift include a note about why you believe literacy is so important. Perhaps share with a family member or friend a book that way especially meaningful to you as a child. Looking for a zero-waste way to give books? Find free Kindle books online and read aloud to your recipient tonight!
Share your favorite verse on social media: Share with family, friends, colleagues, children your love of a treasured story, book, passage, or speech on your social media channels. Inspire others with how inspired you are of the written word. Considering using today as a way to share your love and affection with your spouse too! Share with them how treasured they are in a new and exciting way!
So, friends, those are 13 ways you can celebrate World Literacy Day today and each day to come in your community, schools, library, and home. I encourage you all to discuss world literacy and find ways you can advocate the love the written word in your neck of the woods! Now I have to ask, how will you be celebrating World Literacy Day? And if you’d like to share your favorite book, author, prose, or passage, I’d love to hear about that below as well!