International Literacy Day takes place on September 8 every year to raise awareness and concern for literacy problems that exist within our local communities as well as globally. International Literacy Day was founded by proclamation of The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, in 1966 “to remind the public of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights.” International Literacy Day brings ownership of the challenges of Illiteracy back home to local communities where literacy begins, one person at a time.
When Is International Literacy Day 2022?
The importance of our fundamental human rights to literacy is celebrated and observed on International Literacy Day on September 8.
History Of International Literacy Day
Although much progress has been made in improving literacy rates more than fifty years since the first International Literacy Day, Illiteracy remains a global problem. There are thought to be more than 750 million adults around the world who cannot read. The scourge of Illiteracy spares no nation or culture on earth, including the United States, where an estimated 32 million American adults are illiterate.
What exactly is literacy? Miriam-Webster Dictionary defines literacy as “the quality or state of being literate: educated…able to read and write.” Because you can read this post and no doubt spends a lot of time reading online, it may seem incredulous to learn people are living and working in your community who not only cannot read this post, but are unable to read a book, a restaurant menu, a road sign, a voting ballot, an instruction manual, a prescription bottle label, or a cereal box.
Can you imagine navigating modern-day life without the essential ability to read and write? International Literacy Day is all about wiping out illiteracy in every local community worldwide. International Literacy Day was first conceived at the “World Conference of Ministers of Education on the Eradication of Illiteracy” held in Tehran, Iran, in 1965. The following year UNESCO took the lead and declared September 8 as International Literacy Day, with the primary purpose being “…to remind the international community of the importance of literacy for individuals, communities and societies, and the need for intensified efforts towards more literate societies.” One year later, the global community accepted the challenge of ending Illiteracy by participating in the first International Literacy Day.
Traditions Of The Day
Literacy is a blessing often taken for granted. Yet, reading is essential in our daily lives. Navigating the world without being able to read or write is challenging and a blockade for experiencing so many things.
On International Literacy Day, organizations and individuals take charge and use their literacy to encourage and assist those who are facing difficulties on how to read and write. Students and employed people volunteer to tutor children in the community, books are generously donated to libraries, and students’ tuition and learning are sponsored to launch their life-long success.
Institutions and government- and international organizations campaign for literacy at the grassroots level and host think tanks and discussion forums to strategize and implement the best policies for eradicating Illiteracy. They also host fundraisers for the cause. A theme is set for International Literacy Day every year, which is used to build awareness around specific issues.
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>40% – the percentage of American third-grade students who read at grade level.
75% – the percentage of children who will struggle to read their whole lives if they fall behind at age nine.
1 in 4 – the number of boys who have dyslexia.
1 in 5 – the number of students who suffer from learning differences.
⅓ – the fraction of America’s struggling readers belong to college-educated families.
97% – the percentage of the literacy rate among the youth in Algeria.
90% – the percentage of the literacy rate globally for all males.
82.7% – the percentage of literacy rate globally for all females.
#1 – Andorra’s ranking in the world in terms of highest literacy.
34.7% – the percentage of Illiteracy among people aged 15 and above in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2019.
International Literacy Day Activities
Donate books to local classrooms
Elementary school libraries always need fresh reading material to keep young students interested in reading. Ask your child’s teachers for a wish list of books they know students will enjoy and donate them to the class. Ask coworkers, relatives, or neighbors about donating to their children’s classroom libraries if you don’t have a child in school. You will be their hero on International Literacy Day.
Gift a book
Children are naturally curious about the world around them. Reading satisfies their desire to learn and stirs their imagination. Books are much-appreciated gifts for birthdays, holidays, or for no reason other than to say, “I was thinking about you.” And isn’t International Literacy Day the perfect day to say “I was thinking about you” by giving a book to each of the children in your life? Don’t forget that adults appreciate receiving books as gifts, too.
Start a community lending library.
Gather family, friends, or neighbors together today and start a small lending library in your neighborhood. In 2009, Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, started the first “Free Little Library” to make book sharing accessible and available anytime for people in his community. His concept of “take a book, return a book” is based on the honor system. We love that these little libraries are accessible 24/7, and there are never any late fees or fines.
Why We Love International Literacy Day
We’re all in this together.
International Literacy Day reminds us that Illiteracy exists in affluent societies, not just third-world countries. It is a problem that needs to be solved and deserves our attention and participation.
We are grateful
Just thinking about how different our lives would be if we could not read or write makes us shiver. International Literacy Day gives us reason to pause and be thankful for the parents, grandparents, siblings, teachers, and others who invested their time in helping us learn to read and write when we were young. Our literacy is a treasure for which we are grateful.
Illiteracy is a problem that can be overcome.
Some problems appear so big and overwhelming that they seem almost impossible to solve. But stopping the cycle of Illiteracy is one challenge that can be solved – one child and one adult at a time.