When I think back to learning to read, all I remember is absolutely loving it. I don’t remember any hiccups in my learning, I just remember always enjoying it (and I still do!… when I can…). Since my childhood, I have had the desire to have a library filled with classic novels, literature on my passions, and novels that have spoken to me over the years. I am fully committed to the book movement, as I strongly dislike reading on a screen. More often than not I prefer feeling the pages in my hands, thumbing through to the last spot where I left off (because, let’s be real…I have a toddler and there is no way I am going to finish a chapter in one sitting!).
However, as we approach the annual celebration of International Literacy Day, I am left wondering about my own path within school and learning how to read, my journey within my family and their role in helping me learn, and the privilege I had to learn how to read in the first place. As we enter into this global anniversary, I’m left thinking of the many children and adults across the world that are deprived this developmental milestone, leading to the development and growth of a global movement to ensure that no child, youth, or adult is overlooked in their own journey of learning to read, including actual books, or any digital media content they are bound to come across throughout their lifetimes.
A little background on International Literacy Day
International Literacy Day is celebrated every year on September 8th, typically carrying the torch and leading the pack in the greater areas of need and focus regarding literacy across the world. Beginning on the path to world literacy, a global conference was held in Iran in 1965 to introduce the concept of functional literacy; where the idea of an International Literacy Day began. It was then in 1966 that The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared September 8th as International Literacy Day. More information can be found on UNESCO’s amazing work over the span of 5 decades for global literacy here.
International Literacy Day 2017
For the 2017 celebration, International Literacy Day is holding the theme of ‘Literacy in a Digital World.’ According to UNESCO, this year’s two-day forum carries “the overall aim to look at what kind of literacy skills people need to navigate increasingly digitally-mediated societies, and to explore effective literacy policies and programmes that can leverage the opportunities that the digital world provides.” You can read more about this year’s event in Paris, here.
A closer look at Literacy in Colorado
According to DoSomething.org, 1 in 4 children in America grow up without learning how to read.
In Colorado, the Department of Education completed a study in 2015 highlighting literacy rates across the state. It found that 13.8% (36,420) of K-3 students were identified as having a significant reading deficiency (“SRD”). While this was a reduction for students overall from years prior, this percentage continues to highlight the challenges children within our state face, with learning how to read.
How YOU can help close the gap
You may now be asking yourself “what can I do about this?” Well, there are lots of ideas! If you are reading this, I will consider you a “capable adult,” one who is able to navigate to your favorite all time blog! But seriously, an individual that can navigate a computer, a phone, the internet, etc. So here are some ideas of ways you can close the gap with the kiddos in your lives!
- Read to your kiddos! — When I say read, of course reading books is awesome; however, not every kiddo has access to books! But libraries are a great way to borrow books and read about all different topics! Can’t find time to get to the library? Read the packaging on bottles, spices, everything in your home or when you are out and about! This is a great way for children to recognize letters and words!
- Take a trip to a library that offers story time! Bonus, it’s free, you read a book, AND the kids get to interact with one another!
- Utilize your library to the fullest! Denver Public Library offers this awesome weekly Phone-A-Story! You call in and select the age group for the kiddo in your life! *Bonus! Offered in both English and Spanish!
- Check out Pinterest for some terrific ideas that will work with your kiddo’s age group.
- The International Literacy Association (ILA) has some cool activity resources from years prior, check them out here!
- VOLUNTEER to read! Schools, libraries, special needs day programs. There are so many opportunities!
Whatever you choose to do, focus on the fun it will be between you and the kiddo in your life.