Today, September 8th, is International Literacy Day, a date that’s being marked in different ways by different groups but — in all cases — it is a celebration as well as a lament.
For some, it is an acknowledgement of how far we’ve come on the road to literacy, while realizing how far there still is to go. From the United Nations’ site:
Literacy is a cause for celebration since there are now close to four billion literate people in the world. However, literacy for all — children, youth and adults — is still an unaccomplished goal and an ever moving target. A combination of ambitious goals, insufficient and parallel efforts, inadequate resources and strategies, and continued underestimation of the magnitude and complexity of the task accounts for this unmet goal. Lessons learnt over recent decades show that meeting the goal of universal literacy calls not only for more effective efforts but also for renewed political will and for doing things differently at all levels – locally, nationally and internationally.
Or, as the International Reading Association points out:
International Literacy Day, observed annually on September 8, focuses attention on worldwide literacy needs. 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.
For others it is a celebration of books and reading and a reminder to keep both close to our hearts and in our lives.
In Indianapolis, for example, the powers that would read have used the day as a touchstone for a local grassroots campaign to help raise reading awareness. The Take Five to Read campaign urges reading right now:
Take Five To Read: wherever you are, whatever you are doing, stop and read a book (or a magazine, or a letter, or a work related report, or a newspaper …) for five minutes at noon on Monday, September 8 th to celebrate “International Literacy Day.”
• Take Five To Read to a child.
• Take Five To Read to yourself.
• Take Five To Read to celebrate that you are NOT one of the “one in five adults in Indianapolis who can’t read.”
• And when people ask why you’re reading, tell them to go visit “100percentliterate.org” to help “Make Indianapolis 100% Literate!”
More about the program here.