International Literacy Day 2013

international_literacy_dayAs a writer and avid reader, I am passionate about literacy. From a selfish perspective, people who aren’t literate aren’t candidates to read my books. More importantly, and less selfishly, I know how much reading means to me, and I want everyone to be able to share the experience. In addition, literacy is required for most jobs that provide opportunities for the future. Simple tasks of daily living require basic literacy.

An individual who can’t read a book or the newspaper misses out on excitement, education, entertainment.

A man who can’t fill out application is severely limited in the kinds of jobs he can work. Even if he gets hired, a worker who can’t read the boss’s instructions or who can’t prepare a written report required as part of his duties can’t perform his job well enough to keep it, especially in slow economic times.

A mother who can’t read the instructions on a bottle of medicine for her baby is at high risk of administering the medicine in the wrong dosage or the wrong way , potentially harming rather than helping the child.

Today, September 8, is International Literacy Day. The International Reading Association says this on its website:

International Literacy Day, observed annually on September 8, focuses attention on worldwide literacy needs. More than 774 million of the world’s adults (nearly two-thirds of whom are women) do not know how to read or write, and roughly 123 million children lack those same skills, and are often denied any access to education.

This year, the International Reading Association has adopted the theme “Invent Your Future.” Our goal? To help shine a light on the crucial literacy skills that prime students for success in school, work, and life. (emphasis added)

Today’s activities are focused on school activities to prepare students to succeed in their future. This is critical—if we can educate children, they will function in society when they become adults. But there are many adults today who are illiterate. They need to know it’s not too late. They can find an adult literacy agency that can help them learn the skills they failed to learn as children. No matter how little education they have had or how young or old they are, they can gain basic skills.

A man can learn to read and write well enough to get and keep a job.

A mother can ensure that she gives her baby the right dosage of medicine administered in the correct way.

Men, women, boys, and girls can learn to read for information and for fun. They can keep up with what’s happening in their community by reading their local newspaper (in print or online) or learn about their interests, whether it be history or horse racing. Vicariously in the pages of books, they can travel, fall in love, solve mysteries, develop great friendships, and experience things they will never have a chance to do for real.

If you’re an avid reader like me, imagine the joy you will experience if you see someone learn to read for the first time. Help that happen by volunteering or contributing to literacy organizations in your community. Or if you personally know someone who is not literate, offer to help them to learn to read and write. You will enjoy watching them succeed, and they will appreciate an opportunity to make their lives better.

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