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International Literacy Day

September 8, 2011

September 8th is International Literacy Day. Cowabunga! It’s a celebration. But also a reminder: “More than 780 million of the world’s adults (nearly two-thirds of whom are women) do not know how to read or write, and between 94 and 115 million children lack access to education.”

The International Reading Association is spending today focusing on teachers. “Are teacher education programs being supported to provide teachers with the tools they need to work in an ever more demanding environment?  This environment includes new standards, new assessments, increased numbers of children living in poverty, increased numbers of students needing to learn English as an academic language, increased uses of technology, new uses of data, and a greater need to help more students to learn how to read and write complex text. In short, teachers and teaching need to be supported, not simply measured.”—Richard Long, Director of Government Relations, International Reading Association

The U.N. is spending today focusing on the connection between literacy and peace. “The world urgently needs increased political commitment to literacy backed by adequate resources to scale up effective programmes. Today I urge governments, international organizations, civil society and the private sector to make literacy a policy priority, so that every individual can develop their potential, and actively participate in shaping more sustainable, just and peaceful societies.”—Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General

Books for Asia, a program run by The Asia Foundation, is spending today hosting literacy events—writing competitions, book donations, volunteer readings—in 14 countries.

The city of Albuquerque is spending today at the library: “The celebration will include a panel of authors and photographers, a children’s storytime, a book sale, book readings, book trivia, Reader’s Theatre and a presentation from the Albuquerque Youth Symphony.”

Ghana’s government is spending today refocusing efforts to “rekindle the country’s commitment to ensuring universal primary education for children, improvement in literacy rates for the youths and adults and ensure that all those who acquired basic literacy skills do not relapse into secondary illiteracy.” is spending today asking, “How many different ways can you read?”

Today I get to celebrate International Literacy Day by doing what I would do any other day: reading, writing, editing, and preparing for my literacy classes. But that’s because I got lucky. If you’re reading this, you did too.

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  1. Three cheers for this post! So often students don’t understand the gift that literacy is, how it automatically elevates them in terms of privledge and opportunity. One of my favorite quotes from To Kill a Mockingbird is Scout’s: “I did not love reading until I feared I might lose it. One does not love breathing.” For me, imagining the ability to read being taken away really puts things in perspective. Hope your class is going well!


  2. Love the connection between literacy and peace….thank you for posting this, I did not know today was such a special day!


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