International LIteracy Day: The Future Starts With The Alphabet

Because of literacy I can…

Even if I counted the number of times I use the gift of literacy in just one day, I’m not sure I could capture all this gift have given to me.  From the moment I open my eyes and read the time on my alarm clock, to the last minute reading that I do just before bed I spend my day effortlessly reading, calculating, and using the information that the world throws at me.  Because of literacy I can read street signs, try a new recipe for dinner tonight, write a letter or e-mail to far-away family members, share a bedtime story with my nephew –the list goes on and on!

Every September 8th  since 1966 UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) celebrates International Literacy Day.  This year’s theme is “Literacy and Sustainable Societies”.

Official 2015 International Literacy Day logo

Official 2015 International Literacy Day logo

“New technologies, including mobile telephones, also offer fresh opportunities for literacy for all. We must invest more, and I appeal to all Members States and all our partners to redouble our efforts – political and financial – to ensure that literacy is fully recognized as one of the most powerful accelerators of sustainable development. The future starts with the alphabet”.

                                                                                                                     UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova

This is also the day to be more aware of the people in the world who do not share this wonderful gift with us.  Some do not have it at all.  Some only have it in a partial form, only being able to read or write at a low grade level. According to the Proliteracy International Literacy day Toolkit, UNESCO estimates that nearly 800 million people—one-fifth of the world’s adult population—do not know how to read or write; women make up two-thirds of this number. More than 67.4 million school-age children do not attend school.   More than 36 million American adults struggle to read, write, do math, and use technology above a third grade level according to the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Literacy (PIAAC).

There are many ways to share the gift of literacy with others.  Perhaps the easiest and most enjoyable is to share the gift of reading and writing with the children in your life.  From reading books together before bedtime to sharing family stories around the dinner table there are many ways to help youngsters develop the skills that will help them become successful at reading and writing.  There are also community organizations like Let’s Help, The Topeka Literacy Council, and the  VIDA ministry that could use volunteers to help them with their adult education programs.  Become more educated about the need for literacy and literacy programs, and refer someone to these services. Become an advocate for literacy programs in our communities.  Have I left something out?  Feel free to offer more suggestions by commenting on this post.

One day doesn’t seem adequate to celebrate the many ways literacy brings joy into our lives, so let’s make the most of it!



Some of my many roles at the Library include: Tax Form guru, Collectibles collection promoter, Inspirational fiction evangelist, Adult Literacy promoter, Book Group in a Bag cheerleader, So Many Books book discussion group leader, Reader's Advisor and many more.