Hooray for International Literacy Day!
Saturday, September 10th – Kayla Thompson, Adult Services
Since September 6th was “National Read a Book Day” and September 8th was “International Literacy Day”, I decided to combine these two to talk about literacy and why it should be celebrated not just a few days out of the month, but all year long!
While August hosts “National Book Lovers Day”, September takes the opportunity to welcome everyone – both book readers, non-book readers, and book lovers alike – to set aside some portion of their day to pick up a book and get reading! Reading is important to help form cognitive thinking skills, vocabulary, empathy, and compassion. Literacy is something that can often be taken for granted. Most of us read things every day – road signs, newspapers, emails, books, etc. But it is important to realize that not everyone has the same opportunities.
International Literacy Day was started in 1967 according to UNESCO and has resulted in celebrations each year across the world since. Though progress has been made, illiteracy still exists as a global issue today. According to National Today, more than 750 million people experience illiteracy around the world and UNESCO puts that number somewhere around 771 million people. In the United States alone it is estimated that 32 Million Americans suffer from illiteracy.
So, why is literacy important? According to the World Literacy Foundation, literacy (or lack thereof) has economic impacts (2+ billion adults don’t have the literacy skills that employers are seeking), social impacts (there are currently 5.5 million more out of school girls than boys, which widens the gender gap), and health impacts (literacy can make or break a person’s ability to understand, apply for, and receive health care/make healthcare decisions). So, we can see that reading has importance outside of books and recreational activities. It is a huge part of what keeps our society growing and thriving!
What are some things we can do to help combat illiteracy and/or celebrate International Literacy Day?
1. Get kids interested in reading! Early intervention is really important. Reading with your child every day, even a little, can help combat illiteracy. Show them that reading is a fun activity that can be enjoyed outside of the classroom.
2. Donate books to schools, libraries, daycare centers, etc. Sometimes the problem stems from a lack of resources or the inability to provide books. Donating or even sharing books with loved ones is a great way to celebrate “International Literacy Day”!
3. Start a Lending Library! I love this idea and I love seeing little free lending libraries while I am out and about in my community. Cape Girardeau has a few, but I am sure that every neighborhood could benefit from a free lending library. I try to keep track of the ones I see and check on them regularly to make sure they have books available for all ages.